Dragging anchor and grounding of liquid petroleum gas carrier Happy Lady

Location: Off Shoebury Ness, Thames Estuary, England.

Accident Investigation Report 21/2001

Read our marine accident investigation report, which includes what happened, actions taken and subsequent recommendations:

happy-lady.pdf (346.86 kb)


On 21 January 2001, at about 1040 UTC, the liquid petroleum gas (LPG) carrier Happy Lady grounded on a mud bank in the River Thames estuary. The vessel was refloated with the assistance of two tugs at about 2130. There was no pollution and the vessel sustained only superficial damage.

Safety Issues

  • despite being aware that the vessel was dragging its anchor steadily towards shoal water, the master believed he could heave in the anchor in time to move into safe water
  • the design of the fore part of the vessel allowed the anchor cable to jam between the rake of the stem and the bulbous bow in certain circumstances
  • the master made assumptions regarding the position of the anchor and did not ask the third officer to confirm they were correct


A recommendation has been made to the ship’s manager to ensure that more effective procedures are put in place to avoid the cable becoming trapped between the bulbous bow and rake of the stem and that every attempt is made to establish the correct lead of the cable before starting to heave up. Additionally, Intercon A/S have been recommended to ensure that its vessels onboard procedures are such that, when anchoring or raising the anchor in strong wind or tidal conditions close to shoal water, and officer is placed in charge on the forecastle.

This report was published in 2001.

Published 23 January 2015