A Venezuelan naval boat rammed a German cruise ship several times off the country’s northern coast before sinking. The Resolute cruise ship has a reinforced hull that enables it to sail through ice water.

“In the early morning hours of the 30th of March 2020 (local time), the cruise vessel RCGS RESOLUTE has been subject to an act of aggression by the Venezuelan Navy in international waters, around 13.3 nautical miles from Isla de Tortuga with 32 crew member and no passengers on board”, Columbia Cruise Services, the Hamburg-based company that owns the cruise ship, said in a statement.

According to the company, the encounter escalated when “gun shots were fired and, shortly thereafter, the navy vessel approached the starboard side at speed with an angle of 135 degrees and purposely collided with the RCGS Resolute”.

According to Venezuela, the incident occurred on Tuesday in Venezuelan waters. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro described the incident as “an act of terrorism and piracy” and ordered an investigation.

The country’s defense ministry suggested the Resolute may have been carrying mercenaries ready to attack Venezuela. A search and rescue mission successfully retrieved the crew from the sinking patrol boat.

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