At around 5 am Tuesday morning (24 October), a collision occurred in the German Bight involving the cargo ships Polesie and Verity. The Verity has sunk after the collision. So far there has been one fatality and four people are still missing.

The accident took place approximately 12 nautical miles (22 kilometres) southwest of the island of Heligoland and 17 nautical miles (31 kilometres) northeast of the island of Langeoog. German emergency command (Havariekommando die Gesamteinsatzleitung) took over overall operational management.

The Verity, length 91 metres, width 14 metres and sailing under the UK flag was on its way from Bremen to Immingham in Great Britain. The Polesie, which measures 190 x 29 metres and sails under the flag the Bahamas was travelling from Hamburg to La Coruña in Spain.

The Polesie remainded afloat and has 22 people on board, who are all uninjured. Two crew from the Verity were rescued from the water and received medical care. Later, another man was found dead. There were a total of seven crew on board the Verity, so four remain missing.

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Search and rescue operation

Involved in the search for survivors are amongst others the sea rescue cruisers Hermann Marwede (German Bight/Helgoland station) and Bernhard Gruben (Hooksiel station) of the German Society for the Rescue of Shipwrecked Persons (DGzRS), the emergency tug Nordic, the pilot tender Wangerooge, the water police boat Sylt and a SAR helicopter “Sea King” of the German Navy. A cruise ship in the area, the Iona en route to Rotterdam, also assisted in the search, but sailed on to Rotterdam in the afternoon.

The emergency command also has the DO228 sensor aircraft fly over the sea area in order to obtain further information. The search is difficult because of winds of six Beaufort and three-metre waves.

The airspace over the accident site is closed within a radius of 10 nautical miles in order not to hinder the search operation.


The search for the four missing sailors from the sunken Verity southwest of Heligoland was stopped on Wednesday night. Due to the numerous operational resources – ships and helicopters – in the area, it was possible to completely search the sea area in question again at night. After this produced no results, the emergency services stopped the search.

The surface search will not be resumed today. The incident command will decide in the morning what measures can be taken around the accident site during the day.

At around four o’clock in the early morning, the Polesie docked in Cuxhaven. The cargo ship was able to reach Cuxhaven under its own power.

The weather at the accident site deteriorated slightly over the course of the evening and night. With rain showers and wind speeds of six, the wave heights are between two and three metres.

At 4.30 pm, the emergency command handed over overall operational control. The Weser-Jade-Nordsee Waterways and Shipping Office (Wasserstraßen- und Schifffahrtsamt Weser-Jade-Nordsee) will now be in charge of operations.

Meanwhile, the UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch has announced it will be investigating the accident on behalf of the Isle of Man Ship Registry.

Picture of the Verity by Darren B Hillman, Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0 DEED.

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