What you see in the photograph is the result of a ruptured ethane gas pipe in Port Phillip, Australia. It was the result of poor communications, culture gap, key players kept out of the information loop and a pilot’s unchallenged decision to try and dredge the anchor of a drifting containership, APL Sydney.
It is an excellent example of a holistic accident and perhaps a timely reminder, with typhoons on the way to brush-up on anchoring in bad weather.
At 1428 on 13 December 2008, the Hong Kong registered container ship APL Sydney’s starboard anchor was let go in Melbourne anchorage. Four minutes later, the pilot left the bridge and by 1436, he had disembarked the ship. The 35 knot south-southwest wind was gusting to 48 knots. A submarine gas pipeline lay 6 cables (1.1 km) downwind.
By 1501, after dragging its anchor, the ship was outside the anchorage boundary. The master advised harbour control he intended to weigh anchor and was instructed to maintain position and wait for a pilot. At 1527, when weighing anchor was started after receiving permission from harbour control, the ship was within 50 m of the pipeline. While weighing anchor, the anchor dragged across the pipeline, snagged it at about 1544 and, subsequently, the anchor windlass failed.