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60 Tons, or 120 thousand pounds of anchor and chain were recovered today from waters just beyond Sitka’s Crescent Harbor. The anchor was dropped on May 20th by the MS Amsterdam cruise ship, which frequents Sitka Sound as it travels to and from Seattle and Anchorage.
I spoke with Fred Reeder the Port Director for Cruise Line Agencies of Alaska, who explained how the anchor was lost.
“They had some trouble lowering it and it just spooled off, they couldn’t break it, they couldn’t stop it, but that part gave way and they spooled off the anchor and about and each length of the chain is about twenty inches long and weight 180 pounds.”
The lost anchor and chain were valued at 250 to 500 thousand dollars. Reeder says Holland America decided to recover the lost items, thinking it would more cost effective, and safer for other cruise ships mooring in the sound. All in all, the recovery is slated to cost upwards of 100 thousand dollars. And, Reeder says finding and pulling such a big hunk of metal up from the depths is more complicated than you might think.
“It took a while, the ship had a GPS position on where they were, but as you can imagine it’s a big body of water, and we drug around and we couldn’t find it, and we brought in some divers from Seattle, from Ballard diving. And they came in. And what exacerbated that the anchor and chain was in just a little over 200 feet of water, so it makes for extreme diving condition.”
The divers used a special mixture of helium and oxygen, and had only 35 minutes to secure a line to the lost chain.
“We’ve got a yarder that used to be used in the woods yarding trees out of the forest; we’ve got it mounted to the deck of our barge, and a 110 ton crane on board. We start pulling with one combination and holding with another and then picking with a crane, and then we pick chain up to about 90 feet, which is one shot of chain, and then we dog that off and lower that chain on to the deck of the barge.”
Once the chain and anchor were on board the barge, the barge saddled up to the Amsterdam to re-link the chain to it’s housing on the ship, where it was then reeled in.
Bill Sharp, the Vice President of Port Operations for Holland America says that this is the first ship he knows of to lose its anchor in Southeast, and that repairs to the anchor braking system were made shortly after the anchor was lost.
The Amsterdam set sail from Sitka, at 5 p.m. on Thursday with the recovered anchor and a back on board.
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