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Army Unit Gets 14,500-Pound Anchor By Mistake

April 12, 1985 GMT

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) _ An Army clerk thought he was ordering a $6.04 incandescent lamp. But instead he sent for a 14,500-pound anchor, and now it’s sitting in a shipping yard at Fort Carson.

The Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph uncovered the error, which began unfolding March 6 when a clerk in the 704th Maintenance Battalion at requisitioned the lamp.

The order number for that item is 2040-00-368-4972.

The order number for the anchor: 2040-00-368-4772.

But the clerk typed the latter number into his computer, said Maj. Tom Barnum, a spokesman for the Army post.

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That is the number for ″anchor, marine fluke,″ an item that costs $28,560,

″We had a couple of human errors that compounded the thing,″ Barnum said. ″We know that the mistake will cost us some money.″

The anchor arrived March 25, causing a stir.

″Someone astutely observed that it was not a lamp and it was sent back to installation supply,″ Barnum said. ″The status right now is that it’s in our shipping yard, awaiting disposition instructions.″

″We don’t want to just send it back to the West Coast if it might be headed somewhere like the shipyard in Philadelphia,″ he said.

It cost about $2,000 to ship the anchor by truck from the Sharpe Army Depot in Lathrop, Calif., to Fort Carson.

The Navy said the anchor probably would be used on a destroyer or light cruiser.

″We have a system to review requisitions,″ Barnum said. ″Obviously, this order slipped through the review.″ The computer does show an abbreviated description of the ordered item, he said.

Also, the computer automatically validates order numbers. But because the number corresponded to an available item, the computer validated the number, he said.

The post has since installed an ″override management system″ to provide an additional check on requisitions, Barnum said.

Under the new system the computer will automatically kick out any order for a single item costing more than $2,000, he said.

Most items ordered on a daily basis cost far less than that, he added.

″It’s not a cure-all, but in this situation it probably would have prevented the order from going through because of the unit cost,″ Barnum said.

He also said the post is already using the ″anchor example″ in its training for parts-ordering clerks.