A 200-metre cargo ship has been towed to safety after hitting a barge of rocks at Samphire Hoe near Dover.
A coastguard helicopter has rescued 11 of the 23 people on board the sinking Saga Sky.
The vessel has now been moved - with the aid of a tug from France - to safety at Dungeness.
The general cargo ship, from Hong Kong, lost power and steering at around 7.20am, and due to the high winds collided with a rock barge at the Varne Bank.
The hull was damaged and the cargo ship started taking on water as a result.
The UK Coastguard co-ordinated the rescue efforts with 11 of the 23 people on board being winched off and taken to Dover.
The remaining 12 stayed to help get the vessel moving with the aid of a tug.
Dover and Dungeness lifeboats have been stood down, although the tug remains at the scene.
Heather Skull of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said: “The Maritime & Coastguard Agency’s counter-pollution officer and duty surveyor are liaising with the UK Coastguard and the crew on the ship.
“There is not thought to be any risk of pollution although this will continue to be monitored by the MCA.”
Deputy 2nd coxswain Robert Bendhiaf from RNLI Dover said: "Facing Force 11-12 weather conditions today was one of the biggest jobs for myself as one of the youngest coxswains Dover Lifeboat station has historically had.
"I'm very proud of all the RNLI volunteer crew members I had on board with me for maintaining a calm and professional manor in such rough seas during today's operation.
"It's not often we work alongside multi agencies but today showed how well our RNLI Lifeboat stations can operate with each other and other SAR units."
Deal and Dover Coastguard Rescue Teams were put on standby to help receive crew members rescued from the vessel.
Duty commander Steve Carson said: "The weather conditions this morning are particularly challenging and we have declared this a major incident.
"We are now planning to evacuate the crew from the cargo vessel and our HM Coastguard helicopters from Lydd and Lee-on-Solent are on the scene."
Before the arrival of the tug, the damaged ship was continuing to drift at quite a speed towards Folkestone.
Speaking earlier this morning, a spokesman from Samphire Hoe said: "I can see the ship listing from side to side. The waves are very fierce down here."