The Baltic Ace sank within 15 minutes of colliding with the containership Corvus J Wednesday night approximately 65 kilometers (40 miles) off the southeastern coast of the Netherlands in the North Sea. Five bodies have been recovered and 13 crew members were saved.  The search for the remaining six has been called off, the Dutch Coast Guard said.

Dutch police are working with the prosecutor to determine whether they could investigate the incident as the collision happened outside territorial waters.

These photos released by the Dutch coast guard reveal the damage to the Corvus J following the collision.

Photo: KNRM Breskens

The M/V Corvus J is a modern, 8,370 dwt container-feeder-vessel with the capacity for 630 TEU. The vessel has a length of 134m and a breadth of 19.4m and operates in European containerfeeder services. It was built on the “Rolandwerft” in Berne / Germany in 2003.

Photo: KNRM Breskens

Following the collision, the Corvus J assisted with the rescue operation and recovered one of the survivors. The Corvus J had a 12 crew on board at the time, none of which were injured.

gCaptain’s FULL Coverage: Baltic Ace Sinking

The vessel is currently at flushing anchorage awaiting further instructions from Dutch authorities, according to a statement from the ship’s owner, Jüngerhans Maritime Services GmbH & Co. KG of Germany. The statement continued:

All our thoughts and condolences go out to the families of those crew members who have been lost in this tragic accident and to those who are still missing. Juengerhans understands that the search and rescue operation was resumed early this morning and it is our sincere hope that further survivors will be found.

The Bahamian-flagged Baltic Ace was headed to Kotka, Finland, from the Belgian port of Zeebrugge, when the collision occurred. The Cyprus-flagged Corvus J was on its way to Antwerp from the Scottish town of Grangemouth, the coast guard said.

Below is a plot of AIS data of the Corvus J containership and Baltic Ace leading up to the collision.

Image courtesy Click for Hi-res

Video below provided by


Wind and wave conditions in the North Sea at approximate time of collision:

gCaptain’s FULL Coverage: Baltic Ace sinking

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    • Captain Colin Smith. M.Sc.

      Absolutely right. There comes a point in the Rule of the Road where both ships have to take action to avoid a collision. The turn to starboard is the most favoured in this situation, as it takes you further away from the approaching vessel, after the initial 90 degrees. I’m sure we’ve all done it many times.

      • Dennis Robinson

        The point is that the two vessels were within 1 cable of each other and approximately 1 minute away from collision when before aby action was taken by either vessel. Bear in mind though that the info which can be gleaned from the very short and very limited AIS screen clip does not give enough information for a reasoned analysis

    • Captain Colin Smith. M.Sc.

      Absolutely right Kamin. It’s amazing how many simple crossing situations like this one turn into a disaster because someone either hasn’t evaluated the situation or doesn’t know the rules properly. In my days with Transport Canada I investigated many near-misses and collisions. I would say the vast majority of certificated mariners today don’t know the rules well enough. They’re not something you can ‘learn as you go.’ You have to know them from the start. I’ve even found navigation schools teaching that there are privileged vessels in fog. That’s mostly because they haven’t been to sea for a long time and have forgotten.

  • Kamin

    Never never turn to port. “when in danger when in doubt (in extremis), run in circles (always to stbd) scream and shout” (sound the danger signal).

  • Captain Colin Smith. M.Sc.

    For some reason last seconds of AIS plot lost. Looks as though, if this was clear visibility, that the Baltic Ace went to port AFTER the cont. ship altered to starboard, when she was the stand on vessel. Can’t imagine why she did this, unless the usual fatigue, sparse manning, etc. I never liked working on Home Trade ships in Europe, even in the 70′s, due to the work load on the Mates and Master. Skippered a 2-Mate ship out of Miami where I always took the 8-12 watch. Crewing levels are criminal these days. Happy I’m retired. But it was a great life.

  • Medzeroual

    For many reasons the video showing the collusion could not be used to study this incident:
    1) The AIS signals received from both ships AIS are not synchronised.
    2) Only about 80% of the AIS signals are received by the satellite.

  • Giancarlo Allara

    I am a retired tanker captain, and I can tell that many time I have seen (and stopped by taking the conn) officers trying to alter course to port when in doubt about intention of the vessel approaching from the port side. The danger of a course alteration to port is not always well understood… .

  • Canpt Anoop Kumar, Harbour Pilot

    What made them come so close? Why the timely action was not taken by the action taking and stand on vessel?
    Can it be attributed to commercial pressures. 11 souls lost, wake up mariners. Do not buckle to undue pressures. There is some one waiting for you in your home.

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