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Fishing boat hit by oil tanker off Lowestoft coastline

PUBLISHED: 17:23 09 February 2011 | UPDATED: 09:16 10 February 2011

Richard Morgan (left) and Brian Wright on the Chloe Paige at Lowestoft which was hit by a tanker at sea.
Photo: Andy Darnell

Richard Morgan (left) and Brian Wright on the Chloe Paige at Lowestoft which was hit by a tanker at sea. Photo: Andy Darnell

Archant © 2011

Two fishermen have admitted that they are lucky to be alive after an oil tanker hit their boat off the Lowestoft coast.

The two were enjoying a relaxing morning fishing for cod and skate but their idyllic day almost turned to disaster when they were hit by the huge tanker.

The Singapore-owned vessel crashed into the boat’s bow, which caught its anchor and started to pull it down until fortunately the cable snapped and released them just seconds before tragedy.

Richard Morgan has spoken of his shock and disgust at how he almost lost his boat Chloe Paige while fishing with his crewman Brian Wright on Tuesday morning.

Mr Morgan, 32, said: “We saw a tanker two miles away and I called him up on the radio, gave him our position and said what we were doing.

“He confirmed that he would navigate away from us but 15 minutes later he came too close, so I called the radio again but there was no answer.”

Their 34ft fishing boat was hit, damaging the front rail and dragging the anchor and boat down with it.

Brian Wright, 71, was outside the wheelhouse when it happened and described the 797ft Zaliv Vostok as looking like a “solid wall of steel”.

He said: “I honestly thought we were going to lose the boat. If the anchor had not parted we wouldn’t be here at all.”

Mr Morgan was in the wheelhouse and admitted to his wife Emma later that when it hit his instant thought was to look at the picture of his daughters, Chloe, one, and Paige, three.

Fortunately the boat was released from the tanker and was able to limp back to the Royal Norfolk & Suffolk Yacht Club, in Lowestoft.

The subject of ship-to-ship oil transfers has been an issue of heated debate, with the government announcing that the sea between Lowestoft and Southwold will be the only place in the country where transfers could take place. Last year approximately 300 transfers took place off the Suffolk shoreline.

Mr Morgan, of Sussex Street, used to be a fisherman but said he moved into the chartered fishing business because of the problems of quotas and tankers off the east coast. He explained that he has had near misses in the past but described the North Sea as currently the busiest he has seen it.

He said: “At the moment the sea off Lowestoft is like the M25 - there is a big accident waiting to happen here.”

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency has confirmed that an investigation will take place into the crash which happened between seven and 11 miles off the Lowestoft coastline.

A spokesman said: “It is within our jurisdiction but the issue it that we can’t get to the tanker at the moment as it is quite a long way off the coast.

“However we have reported it to Sirenac, a pan European database for port control, and next time the tanker calls into a port they will get in contact with us.”

Tanker owners Prisco were unavailable to comment.

According to the Marine Traffic website, the vessel was last tracked approximately 12 miles off Kessingland.

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