AN EX-SAILOR told of his fear when the ferry he was on hit another vessel on Saturday.

Alan Davies, 43, from Higher Kinnerton was on board the Sea Express 1 which was travelling back from the Isle of Man.

The ferry and the Alaska Rainbow cargo ship collided after it had been forced to slow down due to thick fog.

Mr Davies, who had been visiting friends, describes the terrifying moments when the ship hit: 'I was stood outside sending a text message and had just moved away from the railings outside of the ship when the ship seemed to brake suddenly and I heard a girl scream. The impact had sent her six feet across the ship and she was holding her head in her hands.

'The ship had stopped dead in its tracks. An announcement then came for everybody to put their life jackets on.

'I had 10 years in the Royal Navy on both ships and nuclear submarines but I have never been so frightened and vulnerable, not even under the sea. I guess it was the unknown in a confined space.'

The father of two was quick to praise the actions of the Steam Packet Staff, however, who managed to keep the 200 passengers calm: 'They were obviously scared themselves but they kept it together very well and stopped everyone else panicking.'

Mr Davies added: 'Just as we began disembarking the ship, myself and several others went across to the starboard side to look at the damage.

'The cargo vessel had grinded against the superstructure in its path, including the now badly damaged rails where I stood 10 seconds before the impact.

'What started out as a bright and sunny day could easily have ended in disaster.'

The 218 passengers and 20 crew members escaped with only minor injuries.

Mr Davies said the experience on the ferry had not put him off travelling on a boat.