Yacht and Merchant Vessel Collide in fog

At midday today Falmouth Coastguard received a call on VHF from the crew of a yacht called Maelys reporting that they had been hit by a cargo vessel in fog 15 miles south east of Lizard Point.

Falmouth Coastguard requested the launch of The Lizard RNLI Lifeboat and scrambled the Royal Navy helicopter R193 with a salvage pump on board. Warship Tyne was also nearby and offered assistance to Falmouth Coastguard.

Falmouth Coastguard was able to quickly identify using their AIS (Automatic Identification System) a ship nearby, to the position given by the yachts crew. The ship is a small cargo vessel called Helen, and is eighty metres in length. It has six crew onboard who subsequently admitted that they had hit the yacht.

The ship was on passage to Bonnieres in ballast and the MAIB (Marine Accident Investigation Branch) have been notified.

The yacht was 34 foot in length, and had just been purchased. It was on passage from the UK to France with two crew on board who are French nationals.

Further communications with both vessels ascertained that there were no injuries, but that there was damage to the yachts hull. The yacht's crew confirmed that they were happy to continue to France.

Subsequent communications with the yachts crew confirms that they have heeded Falmouth Coastguards advice to return to Falmouth and have their yacht properly assessed before attempting their journey.

Henry Purbrick, Watch Manager, Falmouth Coastguard said:

"We are pleased that everyone is safe and well, given that this situation could have had a different outcome.

The collision danger is ever present in poor visibility, all vessels are reminded to keep a sharp lookout at all times and to only make their journey if strictly necessary."

Date Added - 18-Mar-2009

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