The procedure of mooring

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In most ports of the world vessels intending to load or discharge are made fast to piers, quays or specially designated berths which are equipped with modern cargo-handling facilities (so-called terminals).

The mooring procedure requires great skill on the part of the people involved.

This procedure is effected under the supervision of the Shipmaster. On board a vessel special Mooring Parties/Teams are formed. They comprise a number of ratings and, as a rule, one Deck Officer in charge. There are bow and stern Mooring Parties. Special Mooring Party Schedule is displayed on the Bridge or in other places. Before mooring the Master gives order: “Stand by for mooring”. Later the Master will state the side of mooring.

The members of the Mooring Team should accordingly dress including a helmet on the head and special gloves on the hands as well as prepare necessary appliances for mooring. They should ensure that fenders, heaving lines, mooring ropes, ratguards, winches and other equipment likely to be used are ready. After the preparation is completed the Mooring Team should stay at their mooring station and wait for any instructions from the mooring team Commander who maintains a constant communication with the Bridge by means of hand-held VHF and complies with Master’s orders. The Bridge preparations comprise selecting a large scale chart, switching on sonar; radar should be switched on the maximum scale.

In a good number of ports Mooring Master embarks a vessel before mooring in order to assist the Shipmaster to berth a vessel properly. As a rule Pilot assumes duties of the Mooring Master. Mooring Master is a specially designated person who knows the Port Authorities requirements and local conditions for mooring a ship. He advices her Master how the vessel should be made fast to the berth and deals with tug’s Masters. In a good number of ports tug assistance is compulsory while mooring, which can be attributed to limited port waters for maneuvering.

The vessel can make fast to the quay either alongside or head or stern to it. The method of mooring a vessel head, or stern to the quay is widely used by RO—RO type vessels and Car-carrying ferries.

Ship’s approach to berth should be effected at slow speed with both bower anchors ready to let go in case of necessity.   At an appropriate distance from the berth the engine is stopped. When determining such distance the ship's speed, her tonnage, engine power and its reversing ef­ficiency must be taken into consideration. The best way to "bring the ship up" is with her engine but not with the cable.

Vessels are made fast to shore bollards by means of mooring ropes made either of wire (usually steel wire) or of natural fibers (manila, hemp) or synthetic ones (nylon, dacron).

The main mooring ropes are head and stern ropes, springs and breast ropes.  They are given ashore through fairleads with the help of a heaving line or line throwing gun. Heaving line is light, strong and easy in handling line.

There may also be occasions when mooring ropes are given ashore by means of a mooring launch.

Ashore special port personnel make fast the ropes to the bollards or to mooring buoys. When the vessel is approaching a berth it is necessary to heave in the slack in order to prevent ropes from sticking and the vessel from walking away. When the ship’s headway is run off she should be warped on ropes or by means of “kicking” with the engine. When the ship is alongside the berth the ropes must be tightened by means of winches and secured. On board the vessel the ropes may be made fast either to bitts or secured at automatic winches.

The sequence of passing of the lines and the number of lines passed is determined by the Master. It depends on the prevailing circumstances such as current and wind direction and force. In case of strong off-shore wind the lines should be doubled to prevent them from parting. After the vessel is secured to her berth ratguards should be placed on all the moorings connecting the vessel with the shore to protect both the vessel and the shore from rats.

All moorings given ashore should constantly be watched, as an alteration of water level or draught of the vessel and change of wind force or direction may result in an excessive slackening or tightening and even parting of the ropes.

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