Air and rescue teams have been deployed to search for three missing crew members of a ship in the North Sea off the Dutch coast that sank after colliding with a fishing trawler during the early hours of Monday.

The accident took place at around 01:30 (11:30GMT) after a 32m ship named Maria, deployed for the protection of an oil drilling platform about 40km south-west of the Royal Netherlands Navy port of Den Helder, collided with Texel 68 fishing trawler.

Citing coastguard spokesman Peter Westenberg, AFP reported that fishermen aboard the Texel 68 had seen all five of the Maria’s crew on the bridge wearing life jackets immediately after the collision.

"Two crew members were rescued but the other three are still missing," Westenberg said.

"We have divers who will explore the wreck, two helicopters and lots of boats are taking part in the search.

The cause of collision is still to be ascertained and Westenberg said that the cause of crash is ‘a mystery’.

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By GlobalData

The nationality of the missing sailors is still to be confirmed, with Dutch authorities stating that they are not of Dutch origin.

In December 2012, the Dutch coast witnessed a serious incident involving a cargo ship that collided with the car-carrier Baltic Ace off the port of Rotterdam, which killed 11 crew members.