Did any of these vessels ever deploy their 15 ton Anchors?

Presumably Titanic never used her centre anchor and possibly neither did Britannic. Somebody might know about Olympic.

If I'd been captain, the centre anchor would never have been used. It was a total pain in the posterior and plain risky. It didn't use chain, but there was a wire cable that was kept on a big powered windlass. To use the anchor, you had to pull a good length of cable off the windlass, take the end of it through the big eye in the stem and back over the bow. Then you shackled the end of the cable to the anchor. Then the crane was used to lift the anchor up and swing it out over he bow, eventually putting its weight on the cable. Then the crane had to be released from the anchor. The anchor could then be lowered. The whole performance would have been difficult in a calm. In a seaway it would have been dodgy. Lines would have to be rigged to control the anchor as it was lifted and seamen assigned to handle them. You'll notice the setup isn't seen today.

I've often wondered if the crane could really handle 15 tons. It looks pretty feeble to me.
>>I've often wondered if the crane could really handle 15 tons. It looks pretty feeble to me. <<

I've wondered the same thing myself. Personally, I don't think this anchor could have been safely deployed and any attempt to do so would be difficult to justify in anything except the gravest possible emergency.

Jim Currie

Hello there!

I think that the 15 ton anchor was a spare required to be carried in case one or both the other anchors were lost. It would be deployed over the bow in the vicinity of the port or starboard hawse pipe. Have a look at the length of the boom on the anchor handling crane.

In practice, the chain of the missing anchor would be hauled inboard by the windlass then lifted inboard over the rail and attached to the spare anchor. The crane would then lift the spare anchor and deploy it over the side and lower away until the weight of the anchor was transferred to the anchor chain. Then the crane tackle would be unhooked or shackled. I understand from somewhere that the anchor crane was designed to do this. It was mounted on a kingpost and would have had a multi-purpose topping lift.

As for the center hawse.. that looks to me more like a fair-lead for towing using the enormous wire earlier described... a sort of Insurance Wire.

Jim C.


Neither Olympic, nor Titanic ever deployed their 15 ton bow anchors,the procedure was long winded & difficult. Brittanic most certainly did, There is a 1916 photo taken by a Greek sailor showing this piece of kit employed in what i assume to be the Aegean sea.
I have no idea where i saw this photo, it was almost 30 years ago..but it WAS Brittanic, she was in her hospital ship livery, & had the covered poop & well deck.
Are any of these photos the image that you saw?



For Mr Ozel: No my friend, the images you directed me to seem to show Britannic deploying her regular anchors.(although i DID inspect them via my Android Samsung..NOT ideal, i admit!! As i recall, the picture i saw was taken from about 2.00 o'clock on her starboard quarter, & of fairly good quality for the time. There was an officer on her starboard wing bridge, & a group of nurses gathered on the forward end of the well deck beside the stairs taking you up to the forecastle. It's infuriating not to recall where i saw it..a school library book perhaps? It wasn't a book from my collection, i never part with any of them..or loan them to mates! I'll solve it...somehow!


Further to my last post, Britannic was forced to deploy all of her anchors on her final voyage, leaving Southhampton on 12 November, she was caught in a violent storm while docked in Naples.
All 3 anchors, plus hawsers, had to be deployed in order to hold her in position.

Doug Criner

I sailed into Naples a long time ago (aboard an aircraft carrier). My recollection is that large ships anchored out. If Britannic deployed all three anchors, that must mean she was anchored out, not moored alongside a pier? Whether anchored or not, if Britannic had received any significant notice of the expected storm, I would have expected them to get underway and ride it out at sea. That's the usual procedure.