In September 1991,the swordfishing boat,The Andrea Gail,returns to port in Gloucester,Massachusetts,with a poor catch. Desperate for money,Billy Tyne(The Captain),convinces the crew to join him for one more late season fishing expedition. They head out past their usual fishing grounds,leaving a developing thunderstorm,behind them. Initially unsuccessful,they head to the Flemish Cap,where their luck improves. At the height of their fishing the ice machine breaks;the only way to preserve their catch is to hurry back to shore. After debating whether to sail through the building storm or to wait it out,the crew decide to risk the storm. However,between the Andrea Gail and Gloucester is a confluence of 2 powerful weather fronts and a hurricane,which the crew of Andrea Gail underestimate. After repeated warnings from other ships,the Andrea Gail loses her antenna,forcing a fellow ship to call in a Mayday. An Air National Guard rescue helicopter responds,but after failing to perform a midair refuel,the helicopter crew ditch the aircraft before it crashes,and all but one of the crew members are rescued by a Coast Guard Vessel,The Tamaroa.
The Andrea Gail endures various problems;with 40-foot/12 meter waves crashing on to the deck,a broken stabilizer ramming the side of the ship,and two men are thrown overboard. The crew decide to turn around to avoid further damage by the storm. After doing so,the vessel encounters an enormous rogue wave. After attempting and failing to ride over the wave,the stricken fishing vessel capsizes and sinks. Only Bobby Shatford,manages to get out of the boat;however,he has no chance of surviving. He is last seen all alone among the waves. Back at shore a memorial ceremony is carried out while friends and family worry and wait for a ship that never comes home.