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All ships during their working life will find themselves entering a dry dock for survey
work, routine maintenance or from the effects of an unscheduled accident. In any
such case the choice and type of dry dock will often be dictated by the physical
dimensions of the vessel, especially the draught and the geography reflecting the
location of the ship in relation to the position of the dockyard.
Clearly owners will also be influenced by the overall costs of one dock compared
with another for the intended repairs.
To this end the economic factors could well win the day on the eventual choice of
The fact that there are now several types of dry docking operations possible, this
may also influence the choice depending on the nature of the required services
TYPES OF DOCKING - Docking operations can take place in any of the following

The Graving Dock Usually stone built, with stepped sides known as alters the
graving dock has an access from the seaward, navigational channel. This is closed
off, once the ship has entered, by a dock gate known as a caisson. Once aligned the
water is pumped from the dock allowing the vessel to take the pre-arranged blocks
aligned on the floor of the dry dock.

Docking Slip Usually an exposed slipway with a cradle arrangement that can
transport the smaller vessel up the slip by mechanical means, effectively dragging
the ship onto the shore line. Once the tide drops the vessel is left exposed, high and
dry on the slipway. Docking work and repairs can be carried out and the vessel can
be walked back down the slip into the water following completion of docking.

Floating Dock An effective tanking system that is flooded and allowed to sink.This
allows the water line to be increased, permitting the vessel to be docked to float in
and over the docking platform.The tanks are then emptied and the buoyancy allows
the dock to rise bringing the vessel with the platform above thewaterline. Floating
docks are particularly useful in the case of a damaged vessel because the dock itself
can be listed to accommodate any adverse list that a damaged vessel might have

Synchro-Lift A mechanical system capable of docking vessels upto about 10,000
grt.This system is a mechanical platform which is physically hoisted by a series of
dock side winches. Once heaved up clear of the water, the vessel is pushed forward
and heaved sideways on railed trackways into a docking bay. Such a system allows
numerous ships to be docked with a single docking system, a distinct advantage
over the single entry graving dock.
HYDROLIFT DOCKING SYSTEMS In December 2000, the Lisnave Shipyard at
Setbal, in Portugal opened a platform hydrolift, docking system for ships.This new
concept allowed for the docking of three Panamax sized ships simultaneously. The
system works in conjunction with a wet basin which is entered via a caisson at the
seaward end. Once the inward bound ship is established in the basin, the outer
caisson is closed.The water level is then increased in both the basin and the
designated platform dock by pump operation.The platform dock can alternatively be
filled by gravity from the basin area. Once the basin is full and level with the dock
space, the ship will have been elevated sufficiently to clear the sill of the platform
dock.This position allows the dock caisson to open and permit the transfer of the
vessel from the basin to the dock platform. The dock caisson is subsequently closed
and draining of the dock is then allowed by gravity.

docking method by means of the hydrolift system operates in a similar fashion to a
vessel passing through locks. A prime example of this is seen in the Panama Canal
passage, when vessels pass from the Caribbean Sea through to the Pacific Ocean.

Log Book Entries Entering Dry Dock (Assumed Graving Dock) A typical, routine
docking operation would expect to include log accounts of all activities leading up to
and including the docking procedure:
Tugs engaged at rendezvous position.
Vessel proceeding towards open lock (usually under pilotage).
Line ashore forward. Line ashore aft.
Tugs dismissed.
Moorings carried up Port/Starboard.
Stern clears gates.
Vessel stopped making headway inside the dock.
Dock gates closed.
Moorings adjusted to align ship fore and aft.
Moorings checked to hold vessel.
Dock pumps commenced pumping out dock water.
Block contact made and vessel enters critical period.
Vessel sewn on blocks fore and aft.
Side shores passed to port and starboard.
Residual water cleared from dock.
Gangway access landed between shore and ships side.
Gangway walkable.
Pilot dismissed.
Pumping of the dock complete and dock floor walkable.
Any additional tasks that are undertaken while the dock water is being pumped out
would also be noted in the log book,e.g. cleaning and scrubbing round the hull by
work punts in the area of the waterline, as the level falls.
A separate record of tank soundings would be recorded in the tank sounding book
for a complete set of on the block soundings. These would be taken as soon after
the vessel is sewn on the blocks.
NB. Although the gangway access is provided by the Dock Authority, the
responsibility of rigging and ensuring safe access remains the prerogative of the
ships Master.

Chief Officers Duties Preparation and precautions for entry
1. All hatches and beams should be in the stowed position to ensure continuity of
strength throughout the ships length.
2. All derricks and cranes should be down and secured, not flying.
3. Any free surface in tanks should be removed or reduced to as little as possible,
either by emptying the tank or pressing it up to the full condition.
4. Stability calculations should be made to ensure adequate GM to take into account
the rise of G when the vessel takes the blocks.
5. Consult dock authorities on draught of vessel and trim required. Generally a small
trim by the stern is preferred, in normal circumstances.
6. Inform dock authorities in plenty of time of any projections from the hull of the
vessel, as indicated by drydock plan.
7. Sound round all ships tanks before entering the dock, to be aware of quantities
aboard. Note all soundings in sounding book.
8. Sound round all tanks once the vessel has taken the blocks, to ensure a similar
stability state when leaving the drydock.
9. Lock up ships lavatories before entering the dock. Ensure adequate fenders are
rigged for entry into the dock and that dock shores are correctly placed against
strength members once the vessel is positioned. If it is the custom in the graving
dock, arrange for focsle head party to position shores on one side and the stern
party to deal with the other side.
11. If required, endeavour to have the vessel cleaned and scrubbed as the dock water
is pumped out.

When drydocking with cargo aboard
12. Inform dock authorities where to position extra shores or blocks to take account of
additional stresses caused by the weight of cargo aboard.
13. Give cargo areas a lock-up stow whenever possible.

When in dock
14. Obtain telephone/electricity/and water pressure fire line garbage and sanitation
facilities as soon as possible.
15. Have documentation ready, inclusive of repair list, for dock personnel.
16. Should tank plugs need to be removed, sight their removal and retain the plugs for
safe-keeping. Ensure that plugs are labelled after removal.

Duties of the Chief Officer prior undocking
Ensure all the listed work is completed to a satisfactory standard. In particular that
all 'survey work' is completed, prior to leaving the dock. To this end a final internal
inspection of the vessel would be the order of the day.
Carry out an external inspection of the hull and enter the Dry Dock. This final visit
to the dock floor would also encompass the replacing of any tank plugs that have been
drawn. This task should not be deligated to a junior officer as the Chief Officer must
sight all the tank plugs being replaced.
The Dry Dock Manager would accompany the ship's Chief Officer on final inspections
and ensure that no vehicles, materials or personnel are remaining in the dock, prior to
commencing any flooding operation.
Inform the ship's Master of the expected departure time and the crew would be
engaged in activities to make the vessel ready for sailing. These activities would
include odering the Navigator to plan the ships movement from the dock, posting the
sailing board and cancelling shore leave, placing the engine room and respective
personnel on standby, carrying out checks on all navigation equipment and making
relevant entries into the deck and offical log books.
Ensure that a full set of tank soundings have been taken and that adequate supplies
of fresh water, fuel and lubricating oil are on board to suit the ships movement needs.
These tank quantities would then be applied to a complete stability check to ensure
that the vessel has an acceptable GM once she floats clear of the keel blocks. Stability
checks are the sole responsibility of the ships personnel and comparison should be
made between the entry soundings when the vessel was last afloat.
All hatch covers would be closed up and the watertight integrity of the uppermost
deck assured. Anchors and cables would be heaved up and stowed correctly aboard
the vessel. All pipelines, power lines etc. would need to be disconnected and relavent
manpower should be made available both ashore and aboard the ship in order to
release these safely and at the appropriate time.
Tugs, the marine pilot and linesmen would need to be ordered to standby for the
time of departure. Ships crew would be placed on standby on the fore and aft ends to
tend moorings.
Finally, the chief officer would sign the Authority to Flood Certificate. This is
provided that he is satisfied that the Dry Dock Authority has completed the docking
specification and that the ship is in a seaworthy condition. This certificate should then
be completed to allow the flooding of the dock to commence.

The Undocking Process
Before water is pumped into the dock, there are a few checks that must be made.
Bottom plugs must be closed and sea chests should be in full working condition. Also,
ballasting of the ship must be done. This is to ensure that the ship does not have an
even keel draught (the aft draught is usually greater than the forward draught).
The pump room, which is usually located at the forward end of the dock controls the
amount of water being pumped out of the dock. This is also referred to as ballasting
the dock.
The gangway is lifted sometimes by means of a crane once the dock personnel have
cleared the ship. Fire hydrants and all shore connections are disconnected.
The forward and aft ends of the ship are attached to shore based mooring lines
which are winch controlled. A crane lifts these lines and places them on the deck so
that they can be attached. These help to control the movement of the ship as it leaves
the dock so as to ensure it leaves smoothly.
When the level of seawater in the dry dock reaches the sea level, the dock gates
are opened.
A tug boat attaches a tug line to the aft end of the ship and begins to pull the ship
backwards (out of the dock). The shore based mooring lines help to guide the ship
smoothly out of the dock. Another two tugboats are on standby on either side of the
Once the ship is halfway out of the dock, the aft shore based mooring lines are
disconnected and the standby two tugboats attach themselves to the ship by means of
tug lines.
When the ship has cleared the dock gates, the front shore based mooring lines are
detached and the tug boats turn the ship around.
Once the ship is some distance away from the dry dock, the tug lines from all three
tug boats are detached and the tug boats move away from the ship. The propeller is
then started and ship moves away on its own propulsion.
Draught and Trim
The vessels required draught and trim will be decided by the drydock manager and
the declivity of the drydock bottom.A small trim of between 12 in (30 cm) and 18 in
(45 cm) is considered normal but will be dictated by circumstances. If a floating
drydock is to be engaged, the drydock itself can be trimmed to suit the vessel,
especially if the vessel has sustained shell damage.

Drydock Plan
This is a plan carried aboard the vessel which shows recommended positions for keel
blocks and shores. Normally the frames are numerically indicated from aft to forward,
and the strakes lettered from the centre-line out and upwards. Indicated on this plan
will also be the position of any external projections from the hull, namely, echo-
sounder units, stabilisers, scoops for condensers etc. Either a separate plug plan will
be carried or the tank drain plugs will be indicated on the drydock plan.

Stability of Vessel
This is the responsibility of the vessel, and should be adequate to cope with the virtual
rise of G as the vessel takes the blocks.The vessel shouldnot be listed. Should damage
be such that the vessel cannot counter an acquired list, then shoreside weights should
be taken aboard to bring the vessel to an even keel.

Positioning of Shores and Associated Docking Stresses
The docking procedure incurs many stresses on the hull from the shores placed in
accord with the docking plan. Incorrect placing of shores can and do cause damage to
the vessel when she Takes the Blocks.This is especially so in the case of specialised
vessels fitted with additional appendages like azimuth thrusters, long bilge keels or
prominent condenser scoops.To this end, before dock pumping is commenced, many
dock authorities are now employing the services of divers to ensure that correct line-
up has beenachieved and the ship will not incur additional damage during the critical
period. Shore positions should be placed with care and should ideally be placed in way
of strength members like the intersection of Deck Stringers and Frames. Bottom hull
blocks, set for wide beam vessels especially, should be placed to coincide with
intercostals and other similar longitudinal members to avoid soft spots which could
lead to hull indentation of the shell plate. Dry dock stresses occur because of the loss
of support which is normally gained from the all round water pressure.The vessel will
become subject to an upward thrust from below the keel position caused through the
lower blocks on the floor of the dock.There will also be a tendency for the ships weight
to cause a downward and outward stress action to the vessels sides while in the dock.
Provided the ship is only docked for a short period of time, any permanent or
extensive distortion through stress is unlikely and the ship should revert back to her
normal lines once re-floating occurs. It is also possible to dry dock a vessel with cargo
on board for a short period of time. This can be done successfully without incurring
overdue stresses
in the hull, provided the position of the cargo is known and additional shores can be
deployed to prevent undue deformity caused by the cargo weight. The possibility of
being able to complete the dry-dock specification without pumping the dock completely
dry is also an option to relieve stresses on the hull. Though this option is not always
possible and restricts working on the hull, it remains an option, especially if the vessel
is loaded or part loaded.

Repair Lists
It is normal practice to carry out repairs when entering drydock, these repairs may be
expedited by detailed work lists covering expenditure limits, work monitoring, state of
survey, maintenance of classification, and protection of owners interests.

To Calculate the Virtual Loss of GM
There are two methods for ascertaining the virtual loss of GM. In each of the two
methods the force P must be known. Force P represents the upthrust at the stern at
the moment the vessel touches the keel blocks. The time the keel first touches the
blocks until the vessel has taken the blocks overall is considered to be the critical
period (Figure 14.10).

MCTC represents the moment to change trim one centimetre,
t represents the trim in centimetres on entering the drydock,
L represents the distance between the centre of flotation
and the vertical line of action of the P force, in metres.

The first method considers the movement of the metacentre (M):

The second method considers the movement of the centre of gravity (G):

Either of the two methods are acceptable when
W represents displacement of the vessel.
KM represents the distance between the keel and the metacentre,
KG represents the distance between the keel and the centre of gravity of the vessel.