Milano Bridge allides with gantry crane in Busan today

Looking at that chartlet it would appear they were not trying to stop until 14:50. At 14:47 it’s “Random order on ME and Rudder, intention to get away from the berth”. If that’s correct they must have been ahead the whole time. Even as late as 1449 hrs it’s Navigation full ahead.

Beyond that I don’t know why they didn’t drop the anchor. My guess is cognitive overload and stress.

This is from one of the first frames from the video taken by the crew member on the stern of the last ship the Milano Bridge cleared. The tip of a prop blade can be seen. Not much immersion. Presumably that’s why the wake is so churned up.

Also in the early frames the prop is turning clockwise or ahead.


Yes, he was still trying to drive out of it the whole time up until he hit. Therefore dropping the anchors would not make sense to the pilot.

Also good chance the forward crew would not still be on the bow at that point.

Good one KC, thought about that too. They were running for cover more than likely.

Dropping anchor when speeding and out of control in tight quarters might have caused the vessel to sheer into moored ships and/or structures when it took hold. It happened anyway but in panic mode with no time to think, pouring the coals to her and going for a clean getaway may have seemed like the better option.

Agree, about the only option they had left by then. Anchoring ,or trying to at that point may very well have caused damage . What a pickle those guys were in. Glad there wasn’t anyone in that crane, or was there?

I think someone mentioned a minor injury. Glad I wasn’t on that bridge. Somebody’s gonna have some splainin’ to do.
I wouldn’t rule out mechanical issues though, especially coming out of the yard like they did. The entire approach appeared out of control. Looking forward to finding out some details.

I was always a bit skittish coming out of a yard period. If in fact they had a mechanical issue,(Which I doubt because of engine commands) that captain and pilot may sleep a bit better, but probably not. This one is a doozy for the lawyers and underwriters.Not sure how much those cranes cost, but the attorneys will benefit quite handsomely, win or lose.

Agreed, “may have seemed” being key.

From my experience on the car ships; pilots in ports that rarely handle carships underestimate the amount of leeway in the wind. Problem is if the ship gets set too close to the buoys or whatever on the lee side of the channel it’s hard to get away without swinging the stern into the buoys or out of the channel. Better to be too close on the windward side of a buoyed or otherwise restricted channel because then you can just run on a heading parallel and the wind will ease you away.

In a docking situation like that, who is actually responsible for an order to drop anchor? Is it only the pilot, and the master is required to stay mum? How does that work in real life? Seems to me, from my armchair, that using the anchors would have made the swing worse.
Seems like all the screaming could have blocked out the anchor drop order :slightly_smiling_face:

The presence of a pilot doesn’t change the fact that the master is in command and has the authority to override the pilot.

I did not look forward to meeting cruise or car ships with a bit of wind in a narrow channel or not so narrow channel. Not at all. I was ok for the most part loaded, but both of us light pointing up in the wind was interesting.

Some Masters clam up and just do whatever the pilot says, even in extremis. Some will take over. Most are somewhere in between. But yes the Master has the overriding authority and in my time as mate I was always on guard for overriding commands from the Master. He’s the boss in the end.

I did my own docking and sailing, with advice sometimes from some knowledgeable pilots if I hadn’t been there before. . They never touched the wheel or throttles. That’s what I miss most after retiring, is handling the rig around the berths. And the great guys I sailed with.

In an ideal world 60 years ago letting go an anchor would have been the thing to do. Berthing a small,600 Teu, container ship berthing in a gale in a narrow estuary backing down into the berth dredging down with 2 shackles on deck works just fine. I definitely wouldn’t hang round on the forecastle of a ship the size of the Milano Bridge letting go the anchor at 6 knots. Many years ago I was second mate on a VLCC anchoring of Bahrain. The Doppler log was U/S and we were making way over the ground more than the bridge realised. The flames from the brake drum were quite impressive even with fire hoses deployed. When the eighth shackle came and went the speedy departure of the entire forecastle staff was followed by very expensive noises behind us. Returning to the forecastle revealed that the bitter end had parted and some dents on steel work showed that that our departure was the correct decision.

Letting go an anchor like this has less shear effect than most people think. With headway on, the pivot point up forward and the anchors lead not too far off the centerline, you really don’t get much of a shear moment. Yes, you can get some but (in my experience) the main effect is to take way off. Remember, you don’t want the anchor to actually set, just drag. Two shots should do it in most situations. I’ve never had to let go an anchor in an emergency situation but have intentionally dredged one a handful of times.

Regardless, in this situation, it seems like the pilot was trying to drive out of it. Letting go the anchors wouldn’t have done a thing until it was much too late.


I have dredged my 1 and only anchor in Bolivar Roads (Galveston) a few times while anchoring with a light vessel and bit of wind., a notorious bad holding ground. Surprised the shit out of myself, it worked. Only had about a shot or so out, just enough to not grab but helped me steer the bow into the anchorage without an assist tug… Praying it didn’t snag on all the crap down there.

You have to know how to drop the anchor when making way. Ideally you want only 1-2 shots/shackles out in a port with 30-55 foot project depth. That way the anchor will drag before breaking. The drag is enough so with 1 1/2 shackles out on one anchor most ships will not move ahead on dead slow or maybe slow ahead. That is significant stopping power.

To do that you have to tell the mate to drop and immediately put the brake back on so it doesn’t get away from you. Do you have experience using anchors to maneuver? I was a pilot in Houston for 30 years until 2016. Not 60 years ago. Anchors are a well-respected tool in the ship handler’s toolbox and one would be foolish not to use them. They are a featured lesson at the model ship schools that I have been to.

Your experience with the VLCC is representative of what happens when the anchor gets out past two shots and digs in - you can’t hold it. But that is not purposeful maneuvering use of the anchor.

Having said all that, it looks like they were trying to maneuver out of the situation rather than stop her. Dragging the starboard anchor might have helped keep the ship from falling down on the dock so quickly and fixed the bow so the rudder could hold the stern up.

There has to be more to this story. 9 knots so close to the berth outside is strange.

Anchoring a VLCC beast is I suppose another league. The ship must go astern very, very slowly, approximately 0.1 - 0.2 knots. This amounts to 8 - 10 cm/sec over the sea bed and is exceedingly difficult to judge accurately without sophisticated navigation aids such as a Doppler SOG log or GPS. Without these aids you should better not anchor.

Those who want to control the mass of a VLCC by means of the windlass brake or even worse the motor, are not using the equipment as it was designed for and accidents are bound, if tried, to happen.