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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.

At 1603, the pilot returned to the ship and, after discussions with the master and harbour control, he decided to dredge the anchor clear. At 1621, less than 1 minute after APL Sydney's main engine was run ahead, the pipeline ruptured. There were no injuries and the pipeline was isolated.

The investigation found that the rupture was the result of attempting to dredge the anchor instead of slipping it. The anchor had also been let go too close to the pipeline in the poor weather conditions. The report identifies safety issues in relation to: the port's risk management with respect to the pipeline and anchorage boundaries and its shipping control procedures; the ship's safety management system with respect to passage planning, the master's authority, crew familiarisation and the working language; the pilotage company's procedures for anchoring and mobile telephone use; and the windlass failure. Safety actions to address all the issues have been taken or proposed by the relevant parties.

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General details
Date: 13 December 2008 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 1621 (UTC +11)  
Location   (show map):Port Phillip  Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Victoria Occurrence type: Equipment 
Release date: 27 April 2010  
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Incident 
 Highest injury level: None 
Vessel details
Vessel: APL Sydney 
Flag: Hong Kong SAR China 
IMO: 9328493 
Type of Operation: Container ship 
Damage to Vessel: Minor 
Departure point:Hong Kong
Departure time:3 December
Destination:Melbourne, Victoria

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Last update 23 August 2012