Maersk captain accused of dragging anchor and severely damaging subsea cable off Perth

The 59-year-old Ukrainian master of the 8,400 teu Maersk Surabaya stands accused of damaging a subsea telecommunications cable off Perth after his ship dragged anchor earlier this month.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) arrested and charged the captain over the weekend over the damage caused to the Australia Singapore Cable (ASC), a fibre cable system that stretches 4,600 km between Perth and Singapore, with connections to Christmas Island and Indonesia.

On 1 August 1, a section of the subsea communications cable in the Perth Submarine Cable Protection Zone, approximately 10 km offshore from Perth’s City Beach, was disabled after being damaged.

Police claim the ship had been anchored approximately 500 m from the protection zone, and allegedly dragged its anchor through the area in high winds.

If found guilty, the master could face a maximum penalty of three years’ imprisonment and an A$40,000 ($28,632) fine.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. Oh, boy. More criminalisation of this business. The Aussies are second only to the yanks for this. Why should anyone go to this place?

    1. So you are against laws then? How quaint. Maybe if people didn’t do unprofessional things they wouldn’t have any problems.

  2. Odd incident. Was the cable charted? If it was why did he anchor so close to if? Did he have a proper anchor watch set so the dragging could be detected? If in doubt just go up on to the forecastle, feel the anchor chain over the windlass and you will feel it dragging across th seabed.
    Another easy way of detecting a dragging anchor is to look over the forecastle at the chain coming out of the hawse pipe. You wil see it go tight, then slack, then tight again.
    If it isn’t charted he is free of any responsibility. But what fool would lay a cable in shallow water-I.e. anchoring depth without indicating it’s location on the charts of that area.

  3. Yes it is marked, I am from Perth, Western Australia and regularly recreational fish in this area and it has always flagged up on my inexpensive GPS sounder, just sayin’… Cheers from W.A. 😁🍻

    1. Cheers. A simple perusal of a chart proves it is marked, but Captains with degrees obviously don’t know what charts are.

  4. I can understand the monetary fine but imprisonments??
    Do people get imprisoned for damaging property in a road accident too ??? Just asking

    1. Indeed, but scale and proportion are needed. Just about any idiot can drive a car but being in command of a rather large ship is somewhat different.
      However, how many politicians get fined or imprisoned for endangering their own country’s and the world’s peoples health by denying medical science or the reality of AGW?

Back to top button