According to police, the Luxembourg-flagged “Charlotta,” collided with the “Hanse Confidence,” which is 140 metres long and registered in Antigua and Barbuda, near a container terminal area Monday afternoon.
Although all seemed well initially, it later emerged that the “Hanse Confidence” had suffered a serious crack in its hull and water penetrated the engine room, threatening to sink the vessel.
The fire brigade rushed to the damaged ship and used bilge pumps to just barely keep the ship afloat.
Authorities worked throughout the night to prevent the sinking, which could have caused a major backup at the harbour, causing hundreds of thousands of euros in delays.
But by Tuesday morning, officials said it appeared the situation had been stabilized.
They continued to investigate what had happened and said the damaged ship would be towed to safety on Tuesday afternoon.
Although the incident would not have threatened major environmental damage, some pressure groups have in the past called on greater controls on shipping to stave off serious collisions.
Because sensitive cargo, including radioactive materials, pass through Hamburg's port from time-to-time, activists have said a damaging accident is a matter of time.