THIS is the moment a huge cargo ship collided with dock walls.
The 83 metre-long vessel Maxime was trying to enter Seaham’s South Dock when it is thought it was caught by the current, and struck the north side of the wall with its starboard side, before the port side hit the other gate.
The ship’s crew were able to put it into reverse and straighten up without the help of other boats or HM Coastguard.
Ed Hunter, 38, from Murton, was among the crowd which gathered on George Elmy Way to watch as the incident unfolded.
He said: “It came through the piers initially and he should have straightened up before coming through, but it looked like he had been caught by the tide.
“He struck one side of the gate first with the bow and attempted to straighten up. He did back up and the boat went into the wall and with that manoeuvre he struck the gate again.
He did back up and the boat went into the wall and with the manoeuvre, he struck the gate again.Ed Hunter, witness
“There was no visible damage to the ship, but we heard two loud bangs.
“It all happened in about 10 minutes and he was going very slowly.
“It’s very narrow, but I’ve seen ships many times get through the harbour with not much space to spare.
“I couldn’t see any debris, but I’ve seen it happen once before when a boat got stuck and they had to get a crane in.”
It is not thought a pilot boarded the boat to steer it into port.
The boat is registered to Willemstad in Curacao, an island off the coast of Venezuela.
It has previously been known as the Cfl Racer, Bohemia, Grace and Moravia.
It was built in the Czech Republic and has a beam of 11m and a draft of 3m.
She is said to be owned by Vertom, but the firm’s Merseyside office said yesterday it was not one of its vessels.
The boat’s last port of call before heading to Seaham was Ghent in Belgium, and before that Hull.
Records show the vessel left Seaham yesterday afternoon.
The crash at the gates happened at about 1.30pm on Wednesday.
Seaham Harbour Dock Company and its parent firm Victoria Group declined to comment on the incident.