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What causes anchor chains to twist?

On Behalf of | Apr 4, 2022 | Admiralty And Maritime Law, Boating Accidents

If you work as a bosun or skilled shipman, you undoubtedly have assisted with hundreds of anchor drops and retractions. Depending on the size of your ship, its anchor chains may weigh thousands of tons.

Keeping your hands and other limbs far from the chain helps to reduce your chances of suffering a life-altering crush injury or amputation. Still, if the anchor chain twists or strains, it may behave erratically. Alarmingly, the chain may bounce in your direction.

Maximum permissible loads

According to reporting from Marine Insight, anchor chains have maximum permissible loads. Before working with or near an anchor, you should know the maximum permissible load of your cable.

Sea conditions can put considerable strain on even heavy-duty chains. If a chain snaps, its recoil may put you in danger of substantial bodily harm.

Consequential movements

Over time, anchor chains develop a sort of muscle memory. That is, they tend to deploy and retract in predictable ways. You do not want to become too comfortable with your ship’s anchor rode, however. Regardless of the chain’s muscle memory, ship movements, sea conditions and even the ocean floor may cause an anchor chain to twist, jump or strain.

Ordinary wear and tear

Repetitive use of an anchor chain wears it out naturally over time. Because salty sea air constantly surrounds these chains, they may have shorter shelf lives than you think. Therefore, ship operators must regularly inspect anchors and anchor chains for signs of distress.

Even though working on a large ship is strenuous, you should not have to risk your life to perform your job duties. Ultimately, if you suffer a catastrophic injury when deploying or retracting an anchor, you may be eligible for considerable financial compensation.


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