Letter: Powerless even to anchor

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your three correspondents (12 January) rightly refer to the use of a ship's anchors when 'not under command' and drifting towards a coast. The Braer, when south of the Shetlands in a southerly storm and with a failed engine room, may not have been in a situation to cope with anchoring.

At three miles south of Sumburgh Head, the sea depth averages 50 fathoms (bottom extensively rock). The Braer would be equipped with several hundred fathoms of anchor cable on each anchor, but letting go anchor in this depth would require power on the anchor windlass, and presumably such power was not available.

A further aspect could be that with full cargo, deep on her marks, the deck area and windlass gear up in the bows was being swept with water considerably heavier than spray, putting at risk any crew manning the windlass.

Yours faithfully,


Ardnadam, Argyll