Vessel Berthing

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Posted in: , on 20. Feb. 2007 - 20:14

A Q to around the world - is there any "guideline" or "standard" regarding "a fixed distance" between vessel when they berth? i.e. is there an international safety standard ? Any assistance would be greatly appreciated. Or email me pse at

Thanx !!

Re: Vessel Berthing

Posted on 22. Feb. 2007 - 06:50

No. Consider lightering operations, take a look at Dubai Creek or the moorings along the Rhine between Koblenz & Duisburg. After that get a copy of Yokohama Rubber's Fender Catalogue. Your anxiety is seated in tug crew competence & deck winch crew diligence. If bow swing is a consideration the deck officers need a talking to. Adjacent vessels will say when "near enough".

What's the difference between a ship & a boat then?

John Gateley

Re: Vessel Berthing

Posted on 22. Feb. 2007 - 06:54

dear all,

Berthing a vessel (ship) is related to absorbing the kinetic energy of the vessel (and coupled water) at her approach velocity.

There are certain standards for the assumed approach velocity as a function of the ships total mass or ships size.

The approach kinetic energy can be absorbed by steel fender pipe, pneumatic fenders, rubber bodies or a combination of these.

The calculations are based on the kinetic approach energy equaling the deformation energy of the fender system, where the hull pressure at the contact area does not exceed the allowable hull pressure.

Simple as that.

A ship can carry a boat

A boat cannot carry a ship

a ship can carry a (pay)load (cargo) (passenger ship, bulk ship)

A boat can perform a function (life boat, tug boat, push boat)

During time, special names evolved (tanker, carrier, supplier, etc.

have a nice day



Re: Vessel Berthing

Posted on 23. Feb. 2007 - 12:07

Teus is correct as usual, a ship can carry a boat.

In elaboration - Coupled water influences include the under keel drag & wind induced wave activity. There are also wind force standards for each class of vessel. To appreciate coupled water influences there is nothing to match watching the Texel - Den Helder Ferry terminal. Watching the tugs wrench the Harwich ferry off the Hook of Holland on a November night gives an idea of the wind forces.

The pitch of vessels along the waterfront is simply a matter of crew performance under the prevailing weather. Bollard & bitt locations might have some minor significance depending on the tide fluctuations. Berthed vessels pitch, yaw & roll; which is where my earlier reference to bow swing came in: & these motions have to be known & allowed for by the winch crew & officers. With acceptable approach angles & velocity the berth should be able to park any vessel anywhere it will fit.

John Gateley

Re: Vessel Berthing

Posted on 23. Feb. 2007 - 05:33


I do also make mistakes and make errors (as usual), as well that I am (sometimes forced or challenged to) learning a lot from this forum and the contacts I get through this forum.

As being a barge skipper for a while some 35 years ago in The Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, I recognize the places and situations you describe.

Berthing a ship is a profession, as well as designing a berth.

Just bringing in heavy equipment and use it without knowledge, skill and experience could do more damage than desired.

Thanks and all for now



Re: Vessel Berthing

Posted on 20. Jun. 2007 - 09:17

Except any special conditions, the rules are simply:

- the free of any floating structures area along pier must be not less than 120% of vessel;

- the minimum distance between the berthed vessel and any nearest vessel should be not less that 10 % of longest vessel or not less than 20 m, depends on which one is greater.

Also each port has own regulations which strictly define these distances. In case of strong winds, stream and other difficulties they can be greater than described above.