The Netherlands Coast Guard launched a major search and rescue operation after the water taxi Stormloper and ferry Tiger collided on 21 October in the Dutch Wadden Sea. Two people were killed in the collision. Two others, including a 12-year-old child, are still missing.
The collision took place just after 7 am at the Schuitengat, a channel between the Dutch Wadden Islands Terschelling and Vlieland.
The Coast Guard Centre in Den Helder alerted several rescue boats from the Royal Netherlands Sea Rescue Institution (KNRM) and the Coast Guard helicopter. Three boats from Rederij Noordgat (an independent towing and salvage company), a police helicopter, the Coast Guard’s Guardian and the Terschelling, a ship belonging to Rijkswaterstaat, also arrived at the scene.
The Friesland safety region scaled up to GRIP 3 to take care of the victims. The GRIP procedure ensures mutual alignment and coordination between emergency services.
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Water taxi capsizes
Eight people were on the water taxi, which capsized after the collision. Four of them were rescued by the Skua, a boat belonging to Rederij Noordgat. The Arie Visser, a rescue boat of KNRM and the Coast Guard helicopter found two more people. They were given CPR, but unfortunately, to no avail. Two people are still missing: a 12-year-old child and an adult man.
‘There is a lot of current in the area, which means someone who gets into the water can drift off quickly,’ explained Jan Hansen, press officer of the Coast Guard. ‘As a result, the search area has continued to expand.’
On Friday afternoon, the search for survivors ceased. An extensive search was carried out in the area. As time passed, the chances of survival unfortunately expired.
The water taxi is operated by De Bazuin. After the Skua managed to rescue four of those on board, the vessel was also able to secure a tow to the water taxi. The boat was subsequently towed to a sandbank to prevent it from sinking further. The water taxi is being salvaged by the BDS Transporter.
Ferry takes on water
Rederij Doeksen’s ferry Tiger took on water after the collision, but was able to sail on under its own power. The 21 people on board and six crew members were taken care of in Harlingen. The boat then travelled on to Damen Shipyards in Harlingen for repairs.
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Cause under investigation
The cause of the collision is under investigation. A maritime police team will start a criminal investigation into the collision. The skippers have been detained for questioning according to standard procedure. The Dutch Safety Board is also investigating the incident.
Picture: Rederij Doeksen’s Tiger (by Roel Hemkes/Wikimedia).