Two Antiguan-flagged cargo ships collided off the Kent coast when one overtook the other.
Dover Coastguard said the accident between the Dealer and the Vindo happened 17 miles off Ramsgate, in the Dover Strait, at 0230 BST.
Watch manager Frank O'Neill said no pollution occurred and no-one was hurt, although both ships were damaged.
He said a coastguard tug was sent out as a precaution but the vessels were able to continue with their journeys.
The Dealer, carrying animal feed, is travelling to Teignmouth, in Devon, while the Vindo, which is carrying fertiliser, is heading to Spain.
"We've got the coastguard tug following them down the Dover Strait, taking photographs of their damage, and also checking to see that there is definitely no pollution," Mr O'Neill said.
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency's enforcement branch and Port State Control officers have been notified of the incident, he added.