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Anchored cruise ships are having anchor problems

Kukri

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the anchoring equipment is not designed to hold a ship off fully exposed coasts in rough weather, or to stop a ship that is moving or drifting. In these conditions the loads on the anchoring equipment increase to such a degree that its components may be damaged or fail due to the high energy forces generated, particularly with ships with high windage.
Maybe I'm looking at this from a yottie PoV, but I would have thought that "off fully exposed coasts in rough weather, or to stop a ship that is moving or drifting" is exactly when a cargo ship is most likely to need its anchors to do their stuff, as bad weather is when engines are most likely to fail, and if the ship can only be stopped or kept from drifting with the anchors, the engines have already failed. I get the idea that the ship is insured, so disposable in extremis, but to take the same attitude to the crew leaves a little to be desired in the ethics department.

Or is that that the huge momentum of a panamax+ is so great that, even at a knot or two, no anchor or chain will do the job?
We certainly don’t want any momentum! We want to be stopped, when anchoring.
 

Neeves

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If you want to see a commercial vessel that does expect her anchors to hold her in severe weather, look for a semisubmersible drilling rig.

And the answer is usually

(a) Bruce
and
(B) Chain, plus wire. Lots of wires
Large commercial ships anchors look very much like the anchors used on commercial ships 100 years ago. There have been improvements but if you look at an AC 14 (current state of the art?) it looks like an anchor you see on a floating museum ship (the Aurora). If you look at modern oil rig anchors they look nothing like an AC14 and more like the anchors we use. Modern oil rigs use high tensile chain and/or dyneema for the exact same reason we (or some of us :) ) do - save weight. Anchoring an oil rig is ever so slightly different to anchoring a 40' yacht - but they too don't worry about catenary (or its absence). Most oil rig anchors need to be deployed and set with considerable care as they do not self right, except one of the models supplied by Bruce which itself is a development from the original cast Bruce - a miniature version of which is still used (by leisure boaters). The other interesting facet of commercial ships anchors are they they are still 'heavy', none (or none I can think of) are fabricated but all oil rig anchors are now fabricated, rejecting weight in favour of design. I have seen fabricated anchors on dredgers and see small fabricated Danforth types.

One reason for design of ships anchors is they need to be able to deploy them from a hawse pipe and an oil rig anchor would look very ungainly. As oil rig anchors, excepting the Bruce design mentioned, don't self right - they would not be much use, as is, as an anchor.

There is some convergence between 'our' anchors and oil rig anchors, which look more similar to each other and bear little or no relationship to the Admiraly pattern, in that both are fabricated and depend on surface area for hold, weight has been rejected. Interestingly it was the CQR (and 50 years later, Bruce), that led the original development away from the Admiralty pattern (though there were unarticulated single fluke anchors used long prior to the CQR). 'Our' anchors, Spade Delta, Epsilon etc - all derive from CQR and Bruce - not from Admiralty pattern. Oil rig anchors, and Bruce I think developed the 'original ' and moved away from design based on Admiralty pattern, all now have a split shank, the cross pieces of which add to area and both have large flukes that dominate the design. Oil rig anchors tend to be very wide and have twin toes (but they do not self right). We cannot incorporate the split shank - our bow rollers are too narrow. There are some split toed leisure anchors, Britany?, but maybe its a development waiting its turn.

Designers of anchors, ground tackle and its associated gear for commercial ships and the Classification Societies never in their darkest moments EVER envisaged the ships being laid up for such a prolonged period - so the kit was never designed for the rigours currently imposed on it. What is surprising is that the kit has stood up so well. Most ground tackle lost would normally be recovered (if you can find it - its not ac tally difficult to recover if you are in a '1st world' location', I'm not sure what happens currently. Most large commercial ships carry spare anchors, indentical to the one in the hawse pipe, on the foredeck. There is probably a whole new industry that has developed offering a recover and replacement ground tackle service (there is a silver lining somewhere) for these large ships sitting and 'waiting'.

It occurs every year or so - the question of why big ships ground tackle is so puny. Simplistically it is not there for the same purpose we carry our anchors - so though they have the same name, ANCHOR, you cannot compare the two.

The ground tackle was never designed for such a long period of ships being laid up. The US Navy, and I assume other navies, have addressed this issue and have developed anchoring systems to which the fleet may anchor. Possibly if authorities had had a different crystal ball that might have been the sensible move. Lay large commercial moorings, charge for same, and this would have made sure these large ships were safely contained. A business opportunity missed. Hindsight is really marvellous. However Covid has no end in sight - despite vaccines the 'news' does not seem to be getting any better, mention of a re-start to the cruise industry remains a moveable feast - maybe some fixed moorings would pay for themselves.

Mooring were commonplace in HK but I don't think I ever knew what windspeed they would accept. I vaguely recall they were emptied when a Typhoon was forecast but typhoon winds are much higher than the winds accepted by a ships anchor so there is a 'gap' between the maximum a ship can tolerate with it own gear and the limits of commercial moorings in HK.

Stay safe, take care

Jonathan
 
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BlowingOldBoots

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If you want to see a commercial vessel that does expect her anchors to hold her in severe weather, look for a semisubmersible drilling rig.

And the answer is usually

(a) Bruce
and
(B) Chain, plus wire. Lots of wires
Indeed but to be fair, they have 2 anchor sets per quarter, 8 in total, more in some cases, on a very wide spread and long rode. Also the anchors are proportionally much larger, in area, that what would be found on ship. They are also placed in the optimal spread by an anchor handler and then pull tested when the semi submersible is anchored to a calculated pre load; if that fails, the anchor is reset. The anchor grip is required as the semi submersible will position itself by tensioning and slacking of on the anchors to place well centre at a coordinate. In 2019 I was last on board an anchored semi sub, west of Shetland, in about 500m of water. A F11 was forecast and the rig disconnected from the well and moved about 100m away from the wellhead and then just sat there as the storm blew through. All the anchors winches have tension meters with alarms and the barge master maintains the correct tension. Indeed they are stationary but the set up is a bit different from a normal ship, to be fair.
 

AntarcticPilot

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Mooring were commonplace in HK but I don't think I ever knew what windspeed they would accept. I vaguely recall they were emptied when a Typhoon was forecast but typhoon winds are much higher than the winds accepted by a ships anchor so there is a 'gap' between the maximum a ship can tolerate with it own gear and the limits of commercial moorings in HK.

Stay safe, take care

Jonathan
There are numerous "Typhoon shelters" for ships in Hong Kong; I presume that ships are packed in there when one is forecast. However, they certainly wouldn't take larger container ships; they're really for fishing vessels and lighters.

Worth noting that much of Hong Kong's waters are well sheltered - that's why we chose it back in 1843 (or whatever!). And there are many deep bays that can be used as refuges - for example, Port Shelter, right next to the village my late wife was from. The English name is a clue!

Finally, although there is a well-developed typhoon warning system, actual hurricane force winds are not common; perhaps once in every 2-3 years, or even less. They raise typhoon warnings for any strong wind, and the majority of warnings are for force 8-9 winds. The real vulnerability is the network of suspension bridges joining the major islands - ferries often continue to operate when bridges are closed.
 

Neeves

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There are numerous "Typhoon shelters" for ships in Hong Kong; I presume that ships are packed in there when one is forecast. However, they certainly wouldn't take larger container ships; they're really for fishing vessels and lighters.

Worth noting that much of Hong Kong's waters are well sheltered - that's why we chose it back in 1843 (or whatever!). And there are many deep bays that can be used as refuges - for example, Port Shelter, right next to the village my late wife was from. The English name is a clue!

Finally, although there is a well-developed typhoon warning system, actual hurricane force winds are not common; perhaps once in every 2-3 years, or even less. They raise typhoon warnings for any strong wind, and the majority of warnings are for force 8-9 winds. The real vulnerability is the network of suspension bridges joining the major islands - ferries often continue to operate when bridges are closed.
There are large, enormous, mooring buoys in the Harbour, between Kowloon and Hong Kong (Island). Cruise ships would enter and tie up at the wharf at Ocean Terminal and the RN would bring ships into the harbour. I don't recall the American aircraft carriers coming into the harbour - they used to sit outside north of Lamma, though whether on a buoy or anchor I simply don't know. Container ships entered freely to the terminals up the Lamma channel, between Lamma and Aberdeen. Access is not a problem - how big a ship used the big mooring buoys in the Harbour - I don't know. The buoys were well big enough for a man (or men?) to stand on them and take the mooring line from a large commercial vessel. In out time there containers would be offloaded from ships on the buoys into lighters/barges, and vice versa.

The Typhoon Shelters take local boats, the Aberdeen Boat Club and RHKYC are both based in Typhoon Shelters and a number of other marinas have been built - but come a typhoon warning they fill up with all the, other, local boats, none I would call a ship. All the fairways simply fill until you can walk anywhere you like within the shelter simply hopping from deck to deck. We kept our yacht on a swing mooring at Lantau until a marina was built there and come a typhoon warning we would move to the Causeway Bay Typhoon Shelter (where RHKYC was located) and all the local boats would simply treat us as one of them - it was all very egalitarian.

I don't recall, there being any lighters, or barges, in the Typhoon Shelters and had always assumed they sought shelter at the container terminals.

The problem from typhoons was not so much the wind but the seas - it was not the wind that destroyed the typhoon shelters (Aberdeen) - but the seas.

Jonathan
 

Kukri

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Some may find this report of interest. Bit long, mind.

https://www.mitma.gob.es/recursos_mfom/fedra.pdf

It concerns the grounding and subsequent loss of MV Fedra that occurred during high winds whilst anchored off Gibraltar. Some of my yacht crew at the time met the Spanish helicopter pilot in an hotel bar. As one does. He told them that he saw gusts of 100knots......

It highlights the master v owner dilemmas.
What a history of silly mistakes! Most of them made by “the office”!
 

Capt Popeye

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yep; might mention that off Brixham /Teignmouth we have had many Cruise Ships anchoring for nearl a year now; quite often they 'up anchor' and move off somewhere else for a while; these movements have oft coincided with a severe storm warning, usually Easterly Direction and extended for many days at a time ; (Easterly on most South Devon Coasts means that the gales are blowing 'on shore' ) , hence the Railways are disrupted as well
 

Mudisox

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When stationed out in HK in the early 70s we had to go out to the typhoon buoys on three occasions. Attaching the anchor chain to the buoy and additionally veering 2 shackles of cable. At their height we also had the main engines running and "steaming into the wind" to ease the load on the cable. One typhoon had either me. the NO or the captain on watch all the time.
The seas were not however large. Unlike on a trip up to Okinawa when we were down to slow ahead for 10 hrs into the waves, and boy was it lumpy.
 

Neeves

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Kukri - may have the answer. Anchors cost money so if you do lose one you want to get it back. But the cost of retrieval might cost more than the anchor and maybe some lost anchors are not reported (as if you do report a loss the local harbour authority will demand you retrieve it). Some may thus not be reported, ship steams of and gets another.

Jonathan
 

JumbleDuck

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What a history of silly mistakes! Most of them made by “the office”!
Perhaps, but the captain seems to have been unable to tell the truth to anyone: he lied repeatedly to the port authority, the masters of all the tugs involved, and his own officers and crew.
 

AntarcticPilot

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Perhaps, but the captain seems to have been unable to tell the truth to anyone: he lied repeatedly to the port authority, the masters of all the tugs involved, and his own officers and crew.
After reading it, I got the impression that he was in a cleft stick - be truthful and lose his job, tell lies and be at risk (serious risk as it turned out) of losing the ship. And we don't know what the owners had told him behind the scenes - maybe they'd said something like "She's worth more in insurance than she is as a working ship, so don't try too hard...." Of course, there would never be any evidence of that! Given their proximity to Gibraltar, I guess he might have reckoned the risk to the crew was within acceptable limits. But the whole pattern of repairs being done at anchor, lack of spares, minimal response to engineering breakdowns and so on all point to a ship that was on its last legs anyway. All through the report, you got a feeling of real cheeseparing going on, and a subtext of cost-cutting even at the expense of seaworthiness.
 

Kukri

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Also my impression.

One of “mine” pulled a unit alongside at Felixstowe - with permission - as you do - and the liner stuck halfway out. The Port (Felixstowe Dock, not Harwich Haven) - wanted to put us out to anchor in that condition. I was NOT going to do that; we stayed alongside while the air turned blue and we scoured England for extra jacks. This experience convinced me that we are no longer a maritime nation.
 
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penfold

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Some may find this report of interest. Bit long, mind.

https://www.mitma.gob.es/recursos_mfom/fedra.pdf

It concerns the grounding and subsequent loss of MV Fedra that occurred during high winds whilst anchored off Gibraltar. Some of my yacht crew at the time met the Spanish helicopter pilot in an hotel bar. As one does. He told them that he saw gusts of 100knots......

It highlights the master v owner dilemmas.
What a shambles.
 
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