Iceland has claimed that the British Navy Frigate Lincoln twice rammed the Icelandic petrol vessel, Aegir on Saturday (22 September).
Iceland has claimed that the British Navy Frigate Lincoln twice rammed the Icelandic petrol vessel, Aegir on Saturday (22 September). But the British Defence Ministry described the incident as a "collision", without naming the offending vessel.
The Icelandic Coastguard said there was some damage to the Aegir, though not extensive and there were no injuries. A statement by the Coastguard said the Aegir did "all it could to avoid the collision, but the frigate, intent on hitting, succeeded in hitting". The statement added: "In both instances these were deliberate rammings".
Later the British Ministry of Defence said it was the Icelandic vessel which turned towards the Lincoln, thus causing the collision.
Lincoln is on duty in northern waters protecting the British trawlers off Iceland's east coast. Icelandic Coastguards said the incident took place 32-miles (51 kms) inside the 50 mile (80 kms) fishery limit which Iceland imposed a year ago.
The move was contested by both Britain and West Germany and there have been repeated incidents involving British trawlers and escort vessels during that period.
Iceland has warned that the ramming by British ships would lead to a break in diplomatic relations.
The allegations against the British frigate are due to be brought before a Maritime Court in Iceland. After the hearing the Icelandic Government is expected to decide on its future ties with Britain.
SYNOPSIS: The fish war off Iceland provided action on Saturday. While British trawlers continued to troll their valuable white fish catches outside the international 12-mile territorial limit, Iceland, which a year ago imposed a 50 mile limit, has defence its decision with patrol boats warning off the British fishing fleet many times. Saturday's incident involved the British Naval Frigate, Lincoln (the larger vessel) and the Icelandic patrol boat, Aegir. The craft collided. Iceland claims it was the Lincoln which was responsible. The Icelandic Coastguard claim their vessel did everything it could to avoid collision, but the Frigate "inter on hitting, succeeded in hitting".
The British Ministry of Defence said it was Aegir which turned towards the Lincoln. Lincoln is on duty in northern waters protecting British trawlers off Iceland's east coast. The collision, according to Icelandic Coastguards, took place 32-miles inside their 50 mile fishery limit. Iceland has warned that the ramming by British ships would lead to a break in diplomatic relations. As the two vessels converged there seemed little chance that a collision could be avoided unless either or both the ships took immediate evasive action. The gap narrowed.
As the water between the vessels grew smaller, the possibility of a major rift between Iceland Britain grew larger. There have been repeated incidents involving British trawlers and escort vessels during the past year. The imposition of a 50-mile fishing limit has been contested by both Britain and West Germany.
Fortunately nobody was injured in the collision and damage to both vessels was slight. Allegations against the Lincoln are due to be brought before a Maritime Court in Iceland.