Anchor work in the Grand Fleet

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  • #14513
    Malcolm Lewis
    Participant

    I attach a picture of HMS Dreadnought at anchor c1910. Can any member explain the purpose of the cable attached to the port bower cable and which has been taken around the bow to – I am not certain where?
    There are many pictures of capital ships of that period anchored in this manner. It must have been a heavy job for the cable party to do this.
    When did this practice begin and end? Did other navies do something similar?

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    #14515
    Malcolm Lewis
    Participant

    Sorry, I meant the starboard bow. My original picture I intended to attach was of a similar situation on the port bow.

    #14523
    Frank Scott
    Participant

    This photograph shows HMS Dreadnought moored to two anchors, with a swivel inserted. The standard mooring swivel is illustrated in the Admiralty Manual of Seamanship, vol 1, from the first edition onwards, and it ensured that as the ship swung round with wind and or tide the hawse would remain clear. In other words it avoided the two anchor cables wrapping around each other.
    In its heyday the Royal Navy used this system extensively in fleet anchorages as it reduced the swinging circle, thus making more space for all the ships.
    The attachment was done on the starboard side, because in the RN this was the side with the sheet anchor. I never had to do it in my time in the service. However, my Father did use this system in a heavy repair ship out East at the end of WW2. I remember that he said that although it was a devil of a job, it was infinitely preferable to trying to sort out the tangle in heavy cable that resulted from not inserting the swivel.

    #14531
    Malcolm Lewis
    Participant

    Thank you, Frank, for clearing up the mystery. When I enlarge the Dreadnought picture I can now see two cables disappearing below the water line. These cables are presumably attached to a swivel close to the starboard hawse pipe. My 1951 edition of the Seamanship Manual is not very helpful with illustrations of this procedure (page 200), do you have a clearer diagram by any chance?
    One tends to forget that ships at single anchor yaw in any sort of a wind and swing quite rapidly over a substantial distance. Mooring with two anchors allows more ships to be in an anchorage and no doubt essential in, say Scapa Flow, which is subject to constant gales. I am not aware there were mooring buoys there in early WW1.
    Clearing harbour rapidly would have been more complicated dealing with the swivel, something the Grand Fleet had to do often when there were frequent submarine threats early in the war.
    On one occasion mooring our little Algerine minesweeper in a very long tanker berth in Port Said we had to drop both bow anchors and then go astern onto a buoy. After the anchors had been let go the port pilot said, “I think you have dropped one on top of the other, Captain”.
    Come our departure time to lead the midnight convoy down the Suez Canal, as we weighed the anchors sure enough up they came horribly entangled. No time to waste so the poor cable party spent the night with men over the bows securing and heaving on wire cables endeavouring to get the anchors apart whilst we were underway. The Buffer’s comments on the damage to his precious paint work were unrepeatable!

    #14532
    Malcolm Lewis
    Participant

    Thank you, Frank, for clearing up the mystery. When I enlarge the Dreadnought picture I can now see two cables disappearing below the water line. These cables are presumably attached to a swivel close to the starboard hawse pipe. My 1951 edition of the Seamanship Manual is not very helpful with illustrations of this procedure (page 200), do you have a clearer diagram by any chance?
    One tends to forget that ships at single anchor yaw in any sort of a wind and swing quite rapidly over a substantial distance. Mooring with two anchors allows more ships to be in an anchorage and no doubt essential in, say Scapa Flow, which is subject to constant gales. I am not aware there were mooring buoys there in early WW1.
    Clearing harbour rapidly would have been more complicated dealing with the swivel, something the Grand Fleet had to do often when there were frequent submarine threats early in the war.
    On one occasion mooring our little Algerine minesweeper in a very long tanker berth in Port Said we had to drop both bow anchors and then go astern onto a buoy. After the anchors had been let go the port pilot said, “I think you have dropped one on top of the other, Captain”.
    Come our departure time to lead the midnight convoy down the Suez Canal, as we weighed the anchors sure enough up they came horribly entangled. No time to waste so the poor cable party spent the night with men over the bows securing and heaving on wire cables endeavouring to get the anchors apart whilst we were underway. The Buffer’s comments on the damage to his precious paint work were unrepeatable!

    #14533
    Frank Scott
    Participant

    Unfortunately I have been unable to track down any good diagrams showing the procedure for inserting the mooring swivel, or for removing it. Photographs only seem to show ships after all the work has been done. I suspect that the best bet for finding a good sketch or diagram would be a Midshipman’s Journal from that era.

    Frank

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