Thursday, February 3, 2011

2-6 Heave! Bulwark hauls in her anchor by hand

THIS new fangled industrial age lark is all very well but sometimes you just need a bit of raw human strength.

Just ask the ship’s company of HMS Bulwark who spent more than five hours hauling in the assault ship’s anchor manually.
The 18,500-tonne ship was anchored in Weymouth Bay carrying out flying trials on her flight deck when sailors realised there was something wrong at the bow.
The buffer and his team found that the anchor simply wouldn’t budge; there was no way of lifting it using mechanical means.
“In my 24 years of service, it’s the first time I have ever witnessed this,” said Bulwark’s buffer CPO ‘George’ Hibbert. “I was reluctant to cut the chain or anchor and let it drop into the sea because they are in limited supply, so we decided to haul it in by hand power alone.”
Which is no mean feat.

The anchor weighs four tonnes (8,800lb – or about the weight of three Ford Focuses... or should that be Foci?).
And the anchor chain weighs 56 tonnes (123,000lb – or about 48 Ford Focuses... or should that be Foci?). It’s also 270 metres (885ft) long – which is 300ft longer than Bulwark herself.
The entire ship’s company was split into groups and the process began.
Working in teams of 30, they pulled the chain up a small section at a time before moving forward and repeating the process in excess of a 100 times.
Initial estimates suggested that it could take up to 24 hours to recover; however, with the combined effort and enthusiasm (that’s what it says here...) of the Bulwarks, the anchor finally lifted clear of the water in 5 hours and 20 minutes.  At not much under a metre a minute, this truly was a mammoth achievement. 
“It was an awesome achievement by the entire ship’s company, who managed to lift 270 metres of cable from 25 metres below the sea allowing us to continue with our busy trials,” said Bulwark’s CO Capt Alex Burton.
The Devonport-based ship has been conducting sea trials following an eight-month overhaul in her home port and is due to be formally accepted back into the Fleet towards the end of the month.
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