Coast Guard launches investigation into ship collision off German coast

The U.S. Coast Guard said it is investigating the role alcohol may have played in the crash of a tanker and a fishing vessel in the Baltic Sea on Monday, while a Russian official dismissed the suggestion alcohol may have been a factor.

The Coast Guard said both vessels are without their crews and no survivors have been found. The coast guard said it was only investigating the incident and it was unclear where the ships went down.

The Pacific Ocean Endurance and the Flotilla Caribe II sank off northwest Germany after the collision Monday morning, German news agency DPA reported.

According to a Coast Guard release, three rescue boats from Linz, North Rhine-Westphalia and Oberhausen, along with a lifeboat and an airplane responded to the incident, reporting that both vessels had sunk. It also said there was no reported pollution.

The Coast Guard said the investigation started Monday evening and it was unclear who caused the crash. It said the crew members were from the commercial vessel and the Russian vessel was listed as being used as a fishing boat.

DPA reported that the 74,000-ton Exxon Mobil tanker, the Courage No. 1103, was carrying oil when it collided with the fishing vessel, the Trader Navigator. The tanker was 320 miles from the city of Rostock when the collision occurred.

The Pacific Ocean Endurance is owned by Chevron-Norwegian Ltd., the same company that runs the Arctic Star, which was carrying Russian gas from Russia to Japan when it ran aground on rocks on the Chukchi Sea in September, partially sinking.

Chevron-Norwegian said that the Triumph No. 1103 had two crew members who weren’t on board during the time of the collision.

The operator and the pilot of the vessel are cooperating with the coast guard investigation, according to the release. The environmental damage of the collision is not expected to be a factor.

The Beacon Responder, a sister ship to the Atlantic Expedition, has not been involved in the incident and is going to retrieve the fallen vessels as part of its function, the Coast Guard said.

A spokesman for the Russian ministry of emergency situations said the Russian vessel sank after a collision with a fishing vessel, but he did not comment on reports the two vessels collided with each other or there was any mention of alcohol.

He said the investigation would not yet be completed, so he couldn’t say what kind of influence alcohol may have played on the crash.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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