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Supermoon Blamed For Grounding of 5 Vessels

By The Maritime Executive 2011-03-24 10:27:26

Between the Isle of Wight and Hampshire Coast, 5 ships ran aground within hours in one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.  The Solent sandbanks the vessels hit are not normally exposed, but it is believed that the “supermoon” phenomenon led to unexpectedly lower tides. 

Known to affect the progression of tides, the moon was closest to the Earth as it had been in 19 years when the groundings took place, only 221,567 miles away, leaving it hard to believe the super moon wasn’t the culprit for the low tides.  Tides are strongest at new or full moon, and even stronger at lunar perigee, resulting in a more disparate range of high and low tides.  Usually, a supermoon will only lower tides around 1 inch, but sometimes a sea can lose more a depth of 6 inches, like in the case of Solent.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) stated that there had been a big tidal range recently due to the moon’s proximity.  Despite the evidence for the unusually low tide with the supermoon, it’s hard to come to a definitive conclusion since tides vary worldwide. 

Coastguards at the Needles, which is situation on the west side of the Isle of Wright, received 5 distress calls at nearly the same time.  Included in this was a 2,900 ton cargo ship, Paula-C, and a 25-foot yacht.  The vessels were required to wait for a higher tide to lift and clear them from a shingle bank, but did also receive tug assistance. 

According to a UK coastguard, no one was injured in the events.