Did A Ship Anchor Hit The Pipeline In California?

Widely reported in the media, but has any of them published a plot showing those “unusual movements”?

If it was an anchor strike, my bet is on a ship moving to/from the Huntington Beach anchorage.

Chinese submarine did it.


The longer timeline was partly based on marine growth that was spotted on the pipe in an underwater survey.

The pipe, which was found to be intact last October, may also have been struck several other times by other ships’ anchors over the course of the period, he added.

No ships have been identified, however.

“We’re going to be looking at every vessel movement over that pipeline, and every close encroachment from the anchor just for the entire course of the year,” the captain said.

“The results from the analyses need to be validated — corroborated. This process can bring even more questions,” Bea said. “The shape of the crack indicates that it was caused by internal pressures in the pipeline. But, if that is true, why didn’t the pipeline leak” earlier?

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Investigators are also examining a heavy weather event that occurred back on January 25, 2021 as a possible date of the initiating event. During that storm, conditions were recorded as 30-55 knot winds with seas as high as 17 feet, the latter recorded by a San Pedro Bay buoy. Of the more than 50 ships at anchor leading up to the storm, 24 ships raised anchor and went to sea for storm avoidance,

If the anchorage was the one 450 meters from the pipeline and the pipeline was dragged about 30 meters than a ship would have had to drag about 500 meters. That’s not very far all considered. Maybe hooking into the pipeline kept the ship from dragging further.

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Interesting thought, but how did they get the anchor unhooked?

Yeah, good point, on the tugs we hooked into an old anchor chain one time and another time, same tug we couldn’t get the anchor up at a spot marked with the wreck symbol on the chart. Both times we had to get a diver.

There is that bow in the pipeline however, and the damage.

More than ones anchor got it. Don’t know when, but the last poor soul finished it off.

They heaved. Probably wouldn’t even have noticed it.

It’s a mystery sometimes, what exactly is going on at the other end of that chain.


Quick google search:

"There are deep gouges in the pipeline. And you can see where the anchor dragged along the bottom and skipped right off the pipeline

Have the actual position of the pipe on the bottom been check lately?
If so, when? Have the survey data been given to the USCG?

I have mentioned it before, but this pipeline was laid over 40 years ago, when accurate position was not always recorded. The position was indicated by a straight line on Field Maps and Navigation Charts, with a safety zone prohibiting anchoring and trawling of at least 1000 ft. on either side.

If the pipeline was pulle 30 m. it must have been hooked between the shank and the flukes.
If they managed to heave (unlikely) they would have to pull the pipeline to surface. Sure as sh*t they would have noticed.

If you hook your anchor on a chain, wire, or on a wreck, divers can usually cut it free.
In worst case you may cut the chain and sacrifice the anchor, but then it would likely still be there, with a few shots of chain attached. Has any been found?

Is it possible that it just got caught on a bight of the chain and not the anchor itself?

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16 inch diameter pipe, the anchor might have just slid off when lifted vertical.

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I know someone who caught a cable with their anchor just west of the no-anchoring line on the chart. The anchor was freed up without too much trouble, but we all guessed someone had done the same thing before and dragged the cable west, or maybe more than one person.

It is a pipeline with a cement jacket. No protrusions. What could a bight in the chain get caught on?

If only the chain contacted the pipe, how did it get “bent like a bow and displaced 30 m.”? (As have been reported as “proof” that the pipeline had be hooked by an anchor)

This pipeline has a cement jacket to weigh it down and protect it from anchor chains and trawl doors. It can only be inspected internally, using a “smart pig”. Any such inspection carried out lately? if so, has the report been seen by investigators.

Is it so hard to accept that a 40 year old pipeline could have become rusty and eventually developed a leak?

To me,fwiw, it seems completely plausible that the pipeline could have simply rusted and starting leaking. I’ve no experience or expertise wrt pipeline corrosion so I’ve not commented on it.

I have commented on anchoring, dragging anchors and fouled anchors as as I do have experience in that area.

I am not your research assistance but if you want me to research this I won’t get out of bed for less than $1000 / day and at that rate* I’m lazy and unreliable.

  • 10 day minimum plus travel and all expenses.


There are no other forces in that area capable of bending the pipe in that manner.

Pipes don’t just bend like that because they’re old.

Where everyone seems to be having trouble is understanding that a pipe can get bent like that and continue to move product for a long time before the stress put it on by the bend causes it to fail. The outside radius is now under stress. Once a crack develops it will propagate quickly, but until a crack develops it will keep being a pipe.

I do have some experience with both pipeline corrosion, damages and anchor slipping, both as insurance surveyor, accident investigator and as expert witness in an arbitration cases involving a ship being blamed for damaging a HV Subsea cable, blacking out the entire island of Madura, Indonesia.
(She was the only foreign ship at the anchorage off Surabaya at the time)

Thanks, but with >40 year in the game myself I don’t think I’ll take up your offer to do research for me, even at that low day rate. :wink:

Agree, but they could have bends because the were laid like that 40+ years ago.

BTW; the leak appears to be on top of the pipeline, not at the outside radius.

It also appears that the operator has reduced the pressure in the pipe for a while.
Could it be that they did do a “smart pig” survey and knew that the pipe was getting thin in places?

PS> The field was planned to be closed down. Replacing or repairing a subsea pipeline is expensive.

Maybe Godzilla stepped on it.

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