When a merchant vessel drifts without holding power despite being anchored, it is referred to as “dragging anchor.” This occurrence has been responsible for numerous accidents, including collisions, groundings, and strandings.
Merchant vessels often anchor for various purposes, such as:
- Waiting for prospects of berthing
- Cargo discharge and loading operations
- Conducting maintenance tasks and hatch cleaning
- Awaiting instructions from owners or charterers
- Observing quarantine requirements, among others.
The primary cause of a vessel dragging its anchor is typically adverse weather conditions. In such instances, it is crucial for seafarers to gather all necessary information to familiarize themselves with the situation and take preventive measures to minimize the risk of anchor dragging. Some essential parameters that should be considered include:
- The prevailing weather conditions in the specific area
- Identifying a safe position for anchoring the vessel
- Understanding the wind and tidal behavior of the area
- Having readily available contact information for port authorities in case assistance is required, and so on.
By carefully assessing these factors and taking appropriate precautions, seafarers can enhance the safety and stability of the anchored vessel, reducing the chances of anchor dragging incidents and their associated risks.