Fishing boat scuttles Marines' Pacific epic

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Two Royal Marines, who survived tropical storms and a typhoon in their attempt to row across the Pacific unaided escaped with their lives after being hit by a fishing boat.

Tim Welford and Dominic Mee had completed more than half the 5,091-mile trip after leaving Choshi, near Tokyo, in May and had hoped to reach San Francisco by November.

But on Sunday, still 1,300 miles away from the Californian coast, an American fishing boat struck their 23ft plywood craft, Crackers, shattering its hull and forcing the two corporals to dive into the water in a desperate attempt to survive.

They were rescued by the fishing boat and transferred to a 50,000-ton container ship that was heading to the United States and from where Cpl Mee, 32, yesterday described the collision, which happened in clear weather.

Cpl Mee, from Exmouth, Devon, said: "I dived over the side of our boat before the fishing boat ran me down. I did not know if I would resurface or whether I would get out alive.

"It's a devastating blow following four and half months of absolutely atrocious weather – the most horrendous elements. We had nothing but storms all the way." He added that he was already planning a round-the-world expedition.