On the morning of March 9, 1999, the fishing trawler Beverley Ann II dragged her nets slow in intermittent rain. When the rain cleared, visibility on the River Tyne was 1 to 2 miles.
The skipper of the Beverly Ann II saw a large radar contact three miles out. The old equipment did not show speed or heading. The skipper turned his attention back to his nets. Rains returned, and the skipper listened to the melodic slap of the water.
Half a mile out, a huge ship emerged from the mist.
The skipper could see both sides of the hull. The point of the prow bore straight for him.
He could throttle up, but the drag of the nets would hold him back. If the ship snagged, the trawler would be pulled under.
He reversed engines.
The vehicle carrier Cypress Pass churned closer.
When the wall of steel met him, the skipper braced.
His front quarter hit, and the force turned him. The deck pitched, ramming his mast into the gigantic ship.
Down the side, his trawler passed close enough to touch. When the wake nudged him away, the immense stern rushed onward, unaware of the Beverley Ann II.
The skipper rushed below decks.
The hull held.
He hurried to the radio with his hands shaking and called for the Coast Guard to respond.
(These photos were taken during our own encounter with the Cypress Pass approaching Turkey Point in the upper Chesapeake Bay. At over 42,000 gross tons, the ship was involved in an accident other than the one I've described. During a storm on October 21, 2004 in Bremerhaven Germany, the berthed ship broke moorings and collided with the vehicle carrier Freedom. Here, the Cypress Pass enjoys calmer days. We had to chase her to get clearer pictures.)