Suspected of drunkenness after capsizing ship in Baltic Sea collision
Swedish and Danish authorities launched a search and rescue mission overnight after two general cargo ships collided and another capsized in the Baltic Sea, south of Sweden. A Danish ship’s crew member was killed and another was reported missing as Swedish authorities said they were investigating charges of gross negligence and drunkenness among the British ship’s crew.
The Swedish Coast Guard, Maritime Administration and the Sea Rescue Company coordinated their efforts by sending nine ships to the area and a helicopter after receiving reports of the collision at around 3.30am local time. The collision took place on a busy seaway south of the Swedish town of Ystad and the Danish island of Bornholm. At the time, there were reports of scattered fog but calm sea conditions.
The larger of the two ships was the British flagged vessel, the Scottish carrier, a general freight transporter of 3,450 gross tonnes. Built in 2018, the vessel is 295 feet long with a speed of 11 knots. The ship had left the Swedish island of Gotland and was returning to Scotland.
The smallest Danish vessel was a 180-foot self-contained sailing barge Karin Høj . Built in 19777, the barge had a two-person crew on board and could have reached top speeds of 6 to 7 knots. He was sailing from a port near Stockholm in southern Denmark.
Karin Høj who capsized in the collision (photo Rederiet Høj A / S)
the Karin Høj capsized in the collision but remained afloat. Immediately after the crash, the crew of the Scot Carrier reported hearing screams for help in the water and launched their lifeboat, but said they could not locate anyone. Experts reported that the sea temperature was around 40 degrees (4 degrees Celsius), which meant that without a survival suit, the risk of hypothermia was very high.
Three Swedish Coast Guard ships and two Danish joined the search with a total of nine ships and a helicopter in search of the two missing crew members of the Danish barge. In addition, two other Swedish coastguard vessels with oil absorption capabilities were also dispatched in the event of an oil spill.
The Swedish Maritime Authority decided to suspend the search by mid-morning while the Swedish Coast Guard and the Sea Rescue Society managed to attach a towline to the overturned vessel. They decided to reposition the vessel closer to shore so that divers could search while preventing it from sinking and a possible release of oil into the water.
Late in the day, the Swedish authorities announced that they had recovered the body of one of the Danish sailors on the ship while the other is still missing.
“The Coast Guard is currently taking a number of investigative steps,” said Jonatan Tholin, who was leading the investigation. “Additional criminal suspicions have arisen, including severe sea intoxication. “
Sweden has some of the strictest intoxication rules in Europe. The BBC reports that the legal limit in Sweden is only 0.02 percent blood alcohol compared to 0.05 percent in the UK.
Scotline Marine Holdings released a statement confirming its vessel was involved in the collision and saying the Scottish carrier is “now docked in the port of Ystad, Sweden, and the crew and company will cooperate fully in the investigation of this tragic incident.” The company credited the second mate and captain with contacting the Swedish Coast Guard and launching a lifeboat to search for crew members of the Karin Høj.
“In accordance with standard procedures, it is understood that all crew members of the Scottish carrier were tested for drugs and alcohol with two crew members over the legal limit, “the company said in its written statement.” Scot Marine Holdings confirms they have a strict drug policy in place and alcohol and have zero tolerance for any violations that occur. “
The Swedish public prosecutor’s office indicated that it was detaining a British citizen born in 1991 and a Croatian citizen born in 1965 as part of its preliminary investigation for “serious drunkenness at sea, gross negligence in maritime traffic and serious cause of death of others ”due to the collision in the strait between Sweden and Bornholm.
Towing a capsized vessel to shallow water (photo Sjöräddningssällskapet)