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Marine Sounding Equipment: How does sounding work?

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Sounding the Tanks of a Ship


Article by sriram balu (5,731 pts )
Edited & published by Ricky (22,594 pts ) on Feb 12, 2010
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Related Guides: Oil Tankers

Wondering how do ships crew check the quantity of bunker fuel oil/ oil cargo/ballast water in ship's tanks?
The method of measuring the quantity is called "sounding" of tanks. Let's sound what's "sounding" of
ship's tanks!

Lufkin Gauging Tapes Sounding of Tanks


Lufkin Gauge Tape & 590G Plumb Bobs Stainless
Gauge Tapes & Plumb Bobs
www.channelsupplies.com The process of quantifying the quantity of liquid
PROTEGO present inside a tank is called "sounding". We
Tank equipment as floating suction units, gauging all are aware of storing water in head/gravity
and sampling devices tank in our house. Frequently we ensure the
www.protego.de
level of water is maintained by checking the
Marine Engineering Jobs
Looking For Marine Engr Jobs in SG? Find Your level in the tank. We fill up the water to the
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that we “sound” the tank level. In the same way,
Double Hull Tank Barges a ship’s fuel oil (bunker) tank or cargo oil tank
Proven Stock Designs up to 60K BBLS ABS Class,
OPA 90 Compliant has to be checked for its increase/decrease of
www.bristolharborgroup.com its level during the operation of the
ship/operations carried out on the ship. We will
learn how does sounding work in context of
ship tanks in this article and the use of marine sounding equipment

http://www.brighthub.com/engineering/marine/articles/35372.aspx 7/19/2010
Marine Sounding Equipment: How does sounding work? Page 2 of 7

Why to "sound" the tanks?

To be clearer let us take the case of “bunker” tanks. As we are aware, bunker tanks are used to carry the
entire volume of fuel required for the safe sea passage. When a ship sails from a port to other, the fuel is
getting consumed everyday and subsequent transfer which has to be done from various fuel oil bunker
tanks to ships settling & service tanks for the use of propulsion. So, it is always necessary to take
“sounding” of the bunker tanks to know the exact quantity of the fuel available on board. Also during
bunkering operation, the quantity of fuel oil pumped on board is to be monitored continuously so that the
bunker tank does not overflow. If it overflows, it may cause a “marine pollution”, and as per “marpol”,
spillage of oil into sea is prohibited.

Sounding of cargo tanks:

Ships such as oil tankers, product carriers and OBO’s as they carry oil/liquid as
cargo in their cargo tanks, “sounding” of those tanks should be continuously
monitored during loading/discharging operations. As tankers are loaded at a
very high rate, the level in the tanks raise faster and has to monitored so that
the safe quantity of liquid cargo is accommodated inside the cargo tank and
changing over of next cargo tank can be done with-out cargo oil overflow as it
may cause marine pollution.

sounding & ullage...

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Marine Sounding Equipment: How does sounding work? Page 3 of 7

With reference to the above pictorial illustration, "Sounding" is the measure of distance from the bottom of
tank upto cargo level in the tank. "ullage" is the distance from the top of the level of cargo to the maximum
level or top of the cargo tank. As sounding increases, the ullage decreases. as ullage increases, the
sounding decreaes. It is usual practice on ships to take ullage when cargo/fuel oil is highly viscous. If the
cargo/ bunkered oil is viscous, and if "sounding" is taken, then the bob may get sticky and may contribute
false readings.

So what is a “sounding pipe?”

A ships tank must have a pipe extending from bottom of the tank to a level
which is safe to “sound” the contents of the tank. A sounding pipe is a simple
steel pipe, which is open at the bottom so that the liquid in the tank gets filled
up to the same level as in the tank. As the level in the tank rises, the liquid level
in the sounding pipe also increases, thus upon taking sounding, the quantity of
liquid can be known.

cargo sounding table

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Marine Sounding Equipment: How does sounding work? Page 4 of 7

Within the sounding pipe, a steel flexible measuring tape, with a bob attached
at the end is lowered till it strikes the bottom of the tank. When it strikes the
bottom of the tank, the level of liquid in the tank, makes an impression on the
“sounding tape” so that if we coil up the tape, the impression of content of the
tank is seen and the readings are noted. The noted reading indicates the height
of the liquid in the tank. “Sounding table” is available onboard which is
calibrated in consideration with the shape of the tank, and trim of the ship. The
volume of liquid in the tank is calculated from the sounding table.

Sounding of ships ballast tanks:

Ships ballast tanks contains sea water. It is difficult to trace the impression of water on the steel tape when
sounding the ballast water tanks. A “water finding paste” can be used to identify the impression of the level
of water present in the tank.

Method to take sounding of the ballast water tank:

1. Apply the water finding paste onto the sounding tape in the area of estimated depth.
2. Drop the sounding tape inside the sounding pipe.
3. Ensure the bob strikes the striker plate at the bottom of the tank.
4. Coil up the tape looking up for the impression.
5. The level is seen as change in color of the paste. Presence of water will turn the paste color to pink
from light orange.

Other gauging methods:

Automatic/Remote sounding/gauging equipments:

Certain cargos carried onboard are toxic and hazardous. Sounding of tanks is dangerous. Automation &
Instrumentation are used to measure the level of liquid in the tanks.

Those may be

1. mechanically operated float gauges


2. electrically powered servo-operated gauges
3. electrical capacitance gauges
4. bubbler gauges
5. differential pressure gauges
6. pneumatic/hydraulic gauges
7. sonic gauges
8. radio-active methods

The above different types of sounding techniques can be seen in further articles.

U.S.C.G

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Marine Sounding Equipment: How does sounding work? Page 5 of 7

A United States Coast Guard agent checking the sounding/sampling the water ballast tank. source:
www.uscg.mil

Related Links
• Design and Setting of the Marine Boiler Safety Valve
• Repairs in Marine Boilers
• Preparing the Ship for Dry Dock
• Marine Boiler Operation
• Cleaning Marine Fuel Tanks

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13 Comments
Showing page 1 of 2 (13 Comments) 1 2 next

hanz Jun 29, 2010 7:29 AM


sounding
ah sir can you help me with the ullage sounding and depth sounding?

what is the main difference of this 2 soundings?

i badly need it for my interview

latheesh babu Jun 28, 2010 9:52 AM


fresh water sounding
hi sir,iam not sailer,but i like to know about how to understand exact qnty of f.water on arrival and
after loading f.water sailing qnty.

http://www.brighthub.com/engineering/marine/articles/35372.aspx 7/19/2010
Marine Sounding Equipment: How does sounding work? Page 6 of 7

waiting ur rply at ur earliest.


sincerly,
latheesh babu

tranthai Jun 15, 2010 10:42 PM


good !
can you send me some useful formulas for bunkering operation and calculating quantity and
weight of fuel oil tanks.

rodel Jun 5, 2010 7:24 PM


fuel iol calculation using trim
good day sir,

could you send a formula how to get or how to calculate ramaining fuel oil and to be loading on
different tanks

lynda zackry May 24, 2010 4:25 AM


DIFFERENT BETWEEN SOUNDING, DIPPING & GAUGING
Hi, could you help me to explain the different of sounding, dipping & gauging? I am a bit confused
on these three terms.

Thks

Andrei Bench Mallari Apr 30, 2010 6:07 AM


bunker calculations
sir,
good day!
can you send me some useful formulas for bunkering operation and calculating quantity and
weight of fuel oil tanks.
thanks and best regards.

Joey Mar 18, 2010 12:35 AM


Bunker calculations
Hi! And good day! Can you send some useful formulas for bunker plans and calculating quantity
and weight of fuel in tanks. Thanks and more power!!!!

anil Feb 16, 2010 11:27 AM


sounding
sir , why do we take soundings for ballast tank and ullage for cargo/fuel tanks

thinesh Feb 15, 2010 1:13 PM


cadet
as a cadet wat must i noe before goin on board ship?

AKARSHAN Jan 25, 2010 5:29 AM


HI
good work........i learnt a lot..

THANKS!!!!!!!!!!!

http://www.brighthub.com/engineering/marine/articles/35372.aspx 7/19/2010
Marine Sounding Equipment: How does sounding work? Page 7 of 7

Showing page 1 of 2 (13 Comments) 1 2 next

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