In 2003, a 7,000 pound (3,175 kilogram) anchor was found about 10 feet (30 meters) from a small spill on a Shell oil pipeline in the Gulf.
Captain Morgan McManus, who spent 20 years at sea before taking command of the training ship at the State University of New York Maritime College, said he would find it hard to believe that a competent crew would drop anchor near of a pipeline. If a vessel’s anchor becomes entangled in any piece of infrastructure, the operator is required by federal law to notify the Coast Guard.
“It would be a big mistake,” McManus said. “I have a bit of a hard time believing that would happen because you notice this stuff on the electronic charts. You are going to trace your position where you are going to drop the hook.
McManus said a more likely scenario is for a ship to be pulled from its position by strong waves or tides, dragging its anchor with it and snagging the pipeline. A second possibility is that the vessel underway engages its engines while raising its anchor, pulling it along the seabed.
The leak was discovered on Saturday morning, more than 12 hours after the first reports of a possible spill arrived. Although the exact size is not known, the Coast Guard has slightly revised the parameters of the estimates to at least about 25,000 gallons (95,000 liters) and no more than 132,000 gallons (500,000 liters).