Mooring Ropes on board ships

Ropes play an important role on board ships from ancient times when ships were propelled manually to the modern day ships. Mooring ropes are usually made up of nylon and used in various practical applications. As the name suggests mooring ropes are used specially for the mooring purposes. Although different types of ropes are used on board having some specific roles.

Importance of ropes

Since historical times, ropes have been of significant use to sailors. From anchors to sails, ropes play a pivotal role for safe operation of vessels. During ancient times, ropes were used for steering ie: Huge sails were controlled by using ropes. Wind pushes the ship, and by tilting the sails, direction can be changed. Nowadays, even after extensive modernization of main/offshore fleet, dependency on ropes have reduced but not perished.

Mooring Ropes on board ships
Vessel secured by ropes

In modern vessels, ropes are used for hoisting flags, mooring operations and lashing cargo.

Mooring system on board

When a ship approaches port, the “parking” of ship is known as berthing. Tugboats are used to assist big ships because there is not enough sea-room available to turn the big ship so tugboats push or pull the ship.  

The ship is held in place by powerful sturdy ropes. These ropes are secured from deck to shore. The ropes are passed from the deck to shore. Mooring winch is an important deck machinery which is used to pass and maintain the rope tension hence to hold the ship in place.

Importance of mooring system on board

A ship is often termed as mega machines built by humans. To secure and hold them in place, strong and large ropes are used. These ropes are wound upon the mooring winch which is fitted on the deck and it is used to tighten or to slack the rope. Many fatal accidents are caused due to human error or machinery failure which disrupts the smooth functioning of the ship and creates a dangerous situation for the people on board and the cargo both. Hence maintaining the mooring winch and ensuring the quality of rope is a top priority for a safe voyage.

Precautions during Mooring

The snap back area is marked in yellow where X is marked as point of failure / at the point where the rope breaks.

  • All crew shall have prior knowledge of the snap back area and stay clear from it as far as possible.
  • The crew must ensure that sufficient men are present on each side while mooring operations.
  • The mooring winch and all deck machinery must be checked and oiled before commencing operation.
  • Mooring lines must be arranged as symmetrical as possible so that the tension is distributed equally all over the deck.
  • Only one line must be operated at a time so that minimal error is possible if occurred and all can do their work with improved focus.

Maintaining Ropes

  1. The ropes should not be exposed to sunlight, heat and seawater. This lowers its quality and strength. If rope came in contact with seawater, first it should be rinsed with freshwater and then oiled before stowing.
  2. They must be kept covered to prevent any contact with chemicals which are used on deck to wash the surface.
  3. Ropes should be frequently lubricated by wire grease to prevent corrosion. Gloves should be used while greasing as it helps to reach the grease into the core of the wire.
  4. Some ropes have low melting point so they can melt and deform permanently. Hence avoid any heat source near the rope.
  5. To prevent rotting, synthetic ropes must be well dried before storing.

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