Germany Will Raise Cargo Ship Verity as Collision Investigation Proceeds
German authorities announced today that they plan to salvage the wreck of the Isle of Man-registered cargo ship Verity which sunk on October 24 after colliding with the Polish-managed bulker Polesie in the North Sea. The vessel, which is currently sitting in one piece on the seafloor at a depth of approximately 100 feet, will be raised as part of the ongoing investigation by the maritime authorities in Germany, the UK, and the Bahamas, as well as the public prosecutor’s office in Hamburg.
News of the salvage plans came as the public prosecutor’s office also provided some additional details on the collision. They reported that the body that was recovered shortly after the collision has been identified as the captain of the Verity. They believe the unnamed individual who was 48 years old and from the Philippines drowned. They said there was no sign of foul play.
The prosecutor reported that the four other missing crewmembers from the Verity were between the ages of 43 and 47. They said they were from Indonesia, the Philippines, and Russia, without providing their identities. All of them are believed to have died in the collision and sinking and may have been trapped aboard the vessel.
The two surviving crewmembers who were rescued from the North Sea shortly after the collision are both reported to be from the Philippines. They are currently in Bremen, Germany.
As part of the ongoing efforts, investigators from Britain and Germany interviewed the bridge team aboard the bulker Polesie after the vessel docked in Cuxhaven the day after the collision. They reported that the information from the ship’s data recorder had also been secured. Germany’s Federal Office for Maritime Casualty Investigations reports it will be conducting witness interviews while also reviewing communication data, weather conditions, and data from the operations of the Verity.
The collision happened approximately 14 miles southwest of Helgoland. It is considered to be one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.
The Verity, which sunk after the collision, was built in 2001 and owned by Faversham Ships of the Netherlands. The 3,676 dwt cargo ship departed Bremen, Germany on October 23 heading to Immingham in the UK and the German authorities are now reporting she was carrying sheet steel.
The Polesie, a 38,000 dwt bulker registered in the Bahamas and managed by Polska Zegluga Morska departed Hamburg on October 23. She was laden and bound for La Coruna, Spain. After gathering the data and interviewing the crewmembers, the German authorities released the ship which departed Cuxhaven on October 28. Her AIS signal shows her currently anchored off the southern coast of England.
Germany’s General Directorate of Waterways and Shipping said today divers are preparing to go to the Verity to begin the salvage operation. Currently, they are waiting for a storm to pass over the area which is causing hurricane-strength winds and high waves. Previously, they had said divers were hampered in their efforts in the area by strong currents during the rescue attempts.
They plan to begin by removing the cargo from the ship. They plan to also cut down the masts and inspect the hull for damage that might require repairs. The plan is to lift the ship intact. They expect to complete the salvage operation before the end of the year.
Reports shortly after the collision said the prosecutor's office in Hamburg had begun an investigation into possible criminally negligent homicide. During today's update, the Germany investigators warned that it could take a year to have a final report on the causes of the collision and recommendations.