Remembering the Day Fortress Anchors Shocked the World: The Biscayne Bay Tugboat Test

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On February 17, 1990, the 70 foot tug boat Hercules rambled out into the Biscayne Bay as it had many times before.

On any normal day, this tug boat would be pulling massive cruise ships and freight liners in and out of the Port of Miami, but this day was different. On board were members of the media, representatives from several established marine anchor manufacturers, and Don Hallerberg, the founder of a new upstart anchor manufacturer called Fortress.

Two years earlier, Hallerberg founded Fortress using a concept that many thought unthinkable, let alone laughable: creating light weight marine anchors that held because of their design, not because of their weight. While many scoffed, Hallerberg was open to putting his design to the test in independent trials, and that was what the Hercules mission was for that day: to give the Fortress Anchor the ultimate trial.

When the crew threw the 65lb Fortress Anchor overboard that day, few expected what happened next. As the anchor set in the muddy bottom of the Biscayne Bay, the line, which was rated to 50,000 lbs tightened.

Fortress Anchors Biscayne Bay TestAt that moment, the Hercules engines began to struggle and the tug boat came to a complete stop.Biscayne Bay Fortress Anchors

When the Captain increased the engine power, the meter reading the pulling power showed 20,000 lbs of pull, and the mighty tug boat still failed to move forward.

The media and representatives from competing companies dropped their jaws to the deck thinking they’d seen the most amazing thing they’d see that day, but there was more.

Just as the meter began to exceed 20,000 lbs, the thick line of the anchor rode began to separate, and then it snapped. When divers went down to retrieve the anchor, it came up without a scratch. Seventy feet and several tons of tug boat had been defeated by less than 70 lbs of aluminum alloy.

Fortress Anchors have undergone many other trials in our history through over 20 independently verified tests and has come out on top in all of them, but the Biscayne Bay Challenge will always remain the most legendary. To this day, the anchor used in that test proudly sits in our front lobby alongside anchors that helped boats survive Hurricane Andrew and others. You can view the results of all Fortress Anchors tests here.

Fortress Anchors are proudly made in the USA and all are backed by a lifetime parts-replacement warranty.