It seems that Dieterick Meenken is informing the world-wide nautical community that the SPADE anchor is unsafe.. by pasting the same message across many forums
This post is obviously designed to damage our company and to put pressure on us to pay a compensation.
Please find herewith our point of view about this question...
Fortunately for us, his approach is probably not in the style likely to readily attract the sympathy of forum's members and we received a large number of very positive comments. I will also enclose a few of them.
With the hope that you will also publish our point of view.
The case of the grounding of Deep Blue is not as simple as it first seems. A New Zealand
Maritime Safety Authority Accident Investigation Report investigated by Jim Lott, NARB, concluded that "the anchor failed when the bolt securing the two parts
of the anchor fell out" and "that this could reasonably be attributed to the failure of the nut that secured it". What the investigator seemingly failed to consider is how this could have possibly occurred when the type of nut used is specifically designed not to come loose, and there were no forces acting on it.
Spade anchors are designed to dismantle into two pieces for easy stowage, a very popular feature. The shank is inserted into a socket on the blade and retained by a stainless steel
bolt with a "Nyloc" style nut. During normal operation, there is no load on this bolt as the substantial socket assembly takes all the force. At boat
shows, we often demonstrate this by removing the bolt completely and pulling the anchor as per normal operation. Even when "break-out" is simulated the shank remains inserted in the socket clearly showing that the bolt simply holds the two sections together.
"Nyloc" style nuts are used extensively to prevent accidental loosening of nuts, normally associated with high vibration situations. In the case of the Spade, there is no turning force on the bolt/nut combination and little or no vibration, "Nyloc" style nuts are used as a precautionary measure to totally eliminate any chance of the nut coming loose. "Nyloc" style nuts require tools and significant force to tighten or loosen them. If the nut was initially tight, and there were no forces acting on it to loosen it, it could not have come undone. In my opinion, it is extremely unlikely that the investigator's conclusion is correct.
There are two other possibilities that the investigator apparently fails to consider altogether..
1. The nut was never tightened properly in the first place. This is a distinct possibility as the anchor was relatively new, was purchased assembled and was not subsequently disassembled. When the Spade anchor was displayed, it is possible that the bolt was only loosely fitted, as purchasers often wish to dismantle the anchor for transport. ("Nyloc" style nuts are designed to be used only once). It is possible that the owner/skipper failed to ensure that the bolt was tight.
2. The nut, bolt and blade were removed after the grounding. Apparently no attempt was made to recover the anchor until three days after the grounding. During this time somebody could have removed the blade.
It should also be noted that the vessel was not insured.
There are a number of other peculiar facts in the case:-
a) The owner was at the top of the mast
fixing the tricolor light at 2:30 am when the vessel grounded. The vessel had been at sea for 7 days having encountered rough conditions. They had anchored at 22:30 and then spent two and a half hours providing radio communications
for an emergency
and helicopter evacuation nearby. It is logical to assume that the crew would be tired. The investigator apparently failed to consider that this could have been a contributing factor.
b) Why was no anchor watch maintained even though all three crew were on deck
c) Even if the anchor blade had become separated from the shank, the shank and the weight of the chain alone would have been able to hold the vessel under the weather
conditions of the time. (NO wind
or wind less than 10 knots)
d) The vessel was apparently anchored too close to the shore and unprotected from the onshore wind.
e) The Model 80 Spade is designed for vessels displacing up to 4.5T. Deep Blue was estimated to displace 6T.
f) The investigator concluded that the rope/chain combination was sufficient as the ratio was 3.25/1. He failed to take freeboard into account, which would reduce the ratio to approximately 2.88:1. Whilst, according to the report, 3:1 is commonly considered adequate in calm conditions for an all chain rode, this was below that and well below recommendations of a ratio of 5/1 or better 7/1 for a mixed chain + rope
rode, especially if no anchor watch is to be maintained.
g) In my opinion, any combination of factors could have lead to Deep Blue dragging including the lack of adequate scope
, but the failure to maintain an anchor watch was the primary cause of the grounding.
Despite doubts over the case, Spade have agreed to modify future bolts, as recommended by the investigator, to include a pin after the nut and a note advising that "Nyloc" style nuts should only be used once. (There is no need to replace the nut after each deployment, but every time the anchor is dismantled). Existing owners are advised that if they have any concerns about their nuts, that they arrange for the end of the bolt to be drilled and have a pin and new "Nyloc" style nut fitted. It is the owners' responsibility to ensure that the nut & bolt (or alternative) are in good condition, secure and suitable for the purpose. It must be emphasised that thousands of Spade Anchors have been sold
since 9 years, and that no similar cases have been reported.
Alain POIRAUD (designer of the Spade and Ocane anchors)