Snagging of starboard anchor on submarine power cable by container feeder vessel Nordsee

Location: Western Solent, off the south coast of England.

Completed PE Summary: Nordsee

A short summary of the accident and action taken.

Merchant Vessel/Accident Details
Vessel Name Nordsee
Registered Owner/Manager Reederei Uwe Jess
Port of Registry Saint John’s
Flag Antigua and Barbuda
Classification Society Germanischer Lloyd
Type Container
Built 1978
Construction Steel
Length Overall 82.11m
Gross Tonnage 2579
Date/Time 21/10/2007, 1645 (UTC)
Location of Incident The Solent
Incident Type Snagging
Persons Onboard 8
Injuries/Fatalities None
Damage/Pollution None


At 1645 on 21 October 2007, the starboard anchor of the container feeder vessel Nordsee snagged a submarine power cable while the vessel was getting underway from the Saltmead anchorage in the western Solent, inbound to Southampton container terminal. Weather conditions and visibility were good.

At 1620, the duty seaman had been sent forward alone to weigh the starboard anchor and, on completion, rig the pilot ladder. The seaman, although qualified, lacked experience on larger vessels, felt uncomfortable working alone on the focsle, and also felt under pressure to complete the job quickly as he also had to rig the pilot ladder.

When the electric windlass motor stopped due to the weight on the cable, the seaman looked overboard. Unable to see the anchor or the cable, he assumed that the anchor must be home and tried the windlass another couple of times before reporting to the bridge that the anchor was secure. The chief officer started manoeuvring, and the seaman left the forecastle to rig the pilot ladder by himself. In fact, the windlass had stalled due to weight on the cable, with some two shackles still outboard. It is likely the seaman did not see the cable because its lead was under the bow.

At 1645, the load on the main engine was noted to be extremely high and banging was heard coming from forward. On investigation, it became apparent that the anchor had dragged over, and snagged a 132,000 volt power cable supplying the Isle of Wight.

Action taken

The Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents has written to the master and owner of Nordsee and made the following recommendation:

For the company to review and revise its operating procedures and checklists to ensure:

  • Sufficient manpower is made available for work to be undertaken in a safe and effective manner.

  • Anchoring operations are supervised by suitably trained crew familiar with, and experienced in, the use of the equipment.

  • A routine maintenance schedule is developed for checking, and if necessary, marking both anchor cables.

Published 23 January 2015