MAERSK container ship anchor fouled, can’t shelter from storm, Cape Town

This happened when to us when I was mate on a tug/barge anchored in Dutch Harbor. Big Danforth dug in so deep in high winds we hooked into a ship’s anchor chain that had been there for years buried in the mud. Had to have some divers come cut it so we could sail…

The open sea forecast for July 14 showed significant waves turning from NW to SW, at 9 meters (swell about 7 meters).

I ignore, what this meant in the open, 30 meters deep, anchorage; it was certainly not pleasant…

I experienced this anchored of a reef entrance very close the reef itself. The vessel was a small general cargo ship and after lashing two small lighters together with telegraph poles we discharged a couple of buses and a 19 tonne airport fire tender.
As dusk approached we found the anchor firmly fast and had an unsettling night seeing the surf breaking on the reef uncomfortably close. The next day with the assistance of a diver we were able to take out the turn that the cable had made around around a coral head and get underway.

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Do you remember if this was off the end of the airport runway?

More in the middle, inside the spit. It was a chain for a larger ship, 81 mm wire dia or bigger from the quick look I got.

The divers said that it was known to be down there but nobody knew exactly where. They were very pleased to have found it. They cut us free but planned on a recovery later of the full chain later to sell for scrap presumably.

Why, did you lose one there?

We use to have to go to the anchorage in Hong Kong if the ship at our berth was delayed. On one occasion our anchor got fouled on some anchor chain when we getting ready to shift to the dock. Nothing we did could get it off the flukes. The tugs there it assist in shifting did nothing to help. We ended up bringing a set of oxygen & acetylene bottles up to the bow. I was lowered in a bosun’s chair rigged off the hook of the stores crane and cut the chain.

The chain looked new and was rumored to have been lost by one of our navy ships during a port visit.

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After that, you certainly looked, why a neighboring ship begun to drift for unknown reasons?

I left a decent anchor and about 4 shots of chain east bank just upriver of Venice,La. Had been anchored for weather for about a day or so, when 2nd mate called me and said we were drifting. Anchor chain broke right at the pawls. Needless to say we sailed in not so nice weather. (Only had one anchor) All that muck in the river swallowed it up. That anchor and chain was on it’s way to Bayou China.

That inner harbor has claimed a lot of anchors over the last hundred years. As you mentioned, anchors drag deep in that volcanic-ash mud, and then foul the chain of the last poor bastard who lost an anchor there. I fouled mine not far from where you lost yours, off the end of the runway. I bet more readers of this forum have done the same. Someone needs to sweep the bottom and clear them all out, but who knows how much that would cost.

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We didn’t lose ours. It was hooked into an anchor chain lost by another ship. Once the divers cut that chain we weighed anchor and sailed as usual.

Our barge anchor used wire on a reel, no chain.