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Bhavnagar Port: The Anchor Graveyard of the Gulf of Khambhat

Bhavnagar Port: The Anchor Graveyard of the Gulf of Khambhat

Bhavnagar Port: The Anchor Graveyard of the Gulf of Khambhat

Bhavnagar, a port city on the Gujarat coast of India, has earned a unique reputation beyond its famed Alang Shipbreaking Yard, known as the “graveyard of ships.” Beneath the waves of Bhavnagar’s anchorage lies another kind of graveyard: a repository of lost ship anchors and chains, numbering well over a thousand.

This phenomenon has perplexed maritime experts for decades. Since 1950, countless anchors have vanished from Bhavnagar’s harbour, seemingly swallowed by the sea. Intriguingly, there have been no reported incidents of ships becoming entangled in these lost anchors, despite the heavy traffic in the area.

A Port Steeped in History

Bhavnagar Port boasts a rich history dating back to 1860. In 1930, under the leadership of Port Officer J. Johnson, the port underwent a significant renovation, with the addition of a wharf, warehouses, railway lines, and other essential facilities. However, due to silting issues, the original port location was rendered unusable. In the 1950s, a new port was constructed farther out, specifically designed to accommodate larger vessels that couldn’t navigate the shallower waters near the jetty. These larger ships rely on anchoring at designated points and offloading cargo onto barges that can then be brought to the jetty.

The Gulf’s Treacherous Currents

Bhavnagar Port lies within the Gulf of Khambhat, notorious for its powerful currents, particularly during spring tides. The monsoon season further intensifies these currents due to high winds, creating a challenging environment for anchoring ships. The immense strain placed on anchors and chains by these currents frequently results in breakages, leading to the loss of this vital equipment.

A Mystery of the Deep

Over the years, more than a thousand anchors and chains have vanished from Bhavnagar’s anchorage, claimed by the unforgiving sea. Despite these losses, there have been no documented instances of ships recovering lost anchors, nor have any incoming vessels reported entanglement with these submerged remnants. The fate of these anchors remains a perplexing mystery.

Expert Insights: The World’s Second Strongest Current

Sudhir Chadha, a former Port Officer with the Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) in Bhavnagar, sheds light on the treacherous nature of the Gulf of Khambhat. He confirms that Bhavnagar Port is situated at the geographical limit of the anchorage point, where currents are exceptionally strong. Captain Chadha asserts that the currents in the Bhavnagar Sea rank as the second strongest in the world. The combination of these powerful currents with the high winds that prevail during the monsoon season creates a significant challenge for anchoring ships.

The Need for Extensive Studies

The GMB is urged to commission a comprehensive and expert-led study to investigate the enigma of the lost anchors. This study should involve specialists who can delve into the various factors at play, including the specific characteristics of the seabed, the anchoring techniques employed by different vessels, and the impact of the unique current patterns in the Gulf of Khambhat.

Unravelling this mystery holds significant value for the maritime industry. Understanding the reasons behind these frequent anchor losses can lead to the development of improved anchoring methods and equipment, ultimately enhancing the safety and efficiency of operations at Bhavnagar Port and similar locations with challenging current conditions.

The Enduring Allure of the Unknown

The story of Bhavnagar Port’s anchor graveyard transcends its practical implications. It serves as a captivating reminder of the immense power of the ocean and the many secrets it holds. As with countless maritime mysteries throughout history, the lost anchors of Bhavnagar add another layer of intrigue to the ever-evolving narrative of our relationship with the sea.

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