The UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has issued a warning regarding an increase in the failures of anchor systems following a year of lay-ups which have increased strain on the equipment.
With cruise ships being unable to operate due to COVID restrictions there have been many vessels sitting off the coast of the UK at anchor for nearly a year. The winter storms that have blown through have put the equipment under further strain.
Before COVID it would be rare for vessels to be at anchor for such extended periods of time and, in any event, the equipment is not designed to hold the vessels off a fully exposed coast in severe weather. The effect this excessive use has had on the equipment needs to be taken into account by the owners when operations begin again, as it may have shortened the life span of the equipment.
A common issue has been the failure of the joining link, or Kenter shackle, which is what links two shackles of cable together. Also, when the length of cable rendered remains constant a single point of wear will occur, usually around where the cable is in contact with the hawse pipe. This is where the MAIB have found the majority of the failures to have occurred.
This finding by the MAIB serves as a reminder to owners and crew to take proactive action in the event of bad weather such as considering weighing anchor or adjusting the chain length to change where the point of contact is rather than waiting to drag or lose the anchor. It may also be a consideration for owners to have a full check of the anchoring equipment performed at the next dry dock due to the increased strain on the equipment.