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Excerpt from High Seas, High Risk

Effectively isolated from the visible world by the early darkness of a winter afternoon and a dense fog, dimly lit by the small glow of the binnacle and the twinkling lights of the electronic equipment, the pilothouse of the steam tanker Mandoil II seemed suspended in space. Ten years old, the 700-foot Mandoil II was a state-of-the-art example of Dutch ship-building expertise. Now, on the last day of February 1968, she thrummed alon some 340 miles off the mouth of the Columbia River, carrying 300,00 barrels of light Sumantra crude oil. For a few moments her mate watched wisps of fog stream by the windows. Then he turned his attention to the radar screen and as the sweeping electronic illuminated blips he went rigid with horror. Even as he stared at the screen another ship burst through the wall of fog and tore into the starboard bow of his own ship. There was the ear-splitting screech of tearing metal and a shower of sparks fanned into the air. Instantly a great fire-ball erupted and rolled down the length of the vessel, destroying everything in its path. On the other ship, a log carrier, the deck cargo burst into flames. Then the groundswell worked the ships apart, and within minutes each was drifting alone in the fog.

The tanker was blazing from stem to stern and settling in the water. Her radio was silent. But from the log carrier a voice, taut with terror, screamed into the radio, "Mayday, Mayday, Mayday...Mayday."