Fisherman lucky to be alive after smash

By David GreenA FISHERMAN is lucky to be alive today after surviving an horrific ordeal at sea in which his small vessel collided with a huge cargo ship.

By David Green

A FISHERMAN is lucky to be alive today after surviving an horrific ordeal at sea in which his small vessel collided with a huge cargo ship.

The fisherman from Lowestoft was said to be "deeply shaken" following the collision between his eight-metre fishing boat and the 1,100-tonne cargo vessel three miles off the Norfolk coast.

His ordeal began at about 6am yesterday when his Lowestoft-based fishing boat, Orient, was involved in a collision with the 64-metre, Danish-registered, Supidana, which was carrying 17 tons of cargo.

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The cargo ship ripped through the hull of Orient and a mayday emergency call was broadcast, with the Caister lifeboat scrambled to the crash scene, Happsiburgh Gap, three miles east of Winterton lighthouse.

Dick Thurlow, coxswain of the Caister lifeboat, said a steel gantry and the mast had taken the brunt of the collision, while a hole had also been torn through the boat, just above the water line.

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"The fisherman is really very lucky to have escaped with his life. I would advise him to do the lottery tonight, he is fortunate to even be here still," he added.

"If he had been 10 feet or so further forward along the cargo vessel so he was more midships, it would have just rolled over his little boat, pushed it under and cut it in half."

The lifeboat crew spent two hours escorting the fisherman – who has not been named, but who is believed to be aged in his 40s or 50s – and his boat back to Lowestoft.

"When we got him back, he was in real shock about it all. There was unbelievable damage and it must have been very frightening to go through that kind of thing," said Mr Thurlow.

"These little fishing boats have to cope with this kind of thing all the while, especially around places like Happisburgh gap, which is where all the cargo ships coming from Europe meet. It is a real threat."

Mr Thurlow estimated Orient had suffered up to £10,000 damage and it could take months to repair the vessel.

A Coastguard spokesman at Great Yarmouth said: "The incident will be subject of an inquiry by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch and the Danish authorities."

The cargo ship is understood to have suffered only superficial damage in the collision and continued on its voyage to Newcastle.

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