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When a ship enters Dry Dock.

Dry Dock mode. A few years ago. 😁

Once in a while a ship must enter a Dry Dock.   A dry dock is a place where the ship will stay for a certain period for maintenance, repairs, new constructions, and inspections which can only take place when the ship is out of service (off-hire). There are international requirements in regards to how often certain types (and age) of vessels must dry dock. This to make sure the shipowners follow the international regulations when it comes to the safety related construction of the vessels. A cruise ship will normally go in Dry Dock every 2-3 years, depending of her age. And depending on her age, size and work scopes will normally stay for 2-3 weeks, and sometimes even several months.

The Dry Docking is an extremely complex operation, not to forget expensive, so the planning has already started by the time the ship left last dry dock. The ship's itinerary needs to be adjusted so the ship is off-hire (out of service) in that period, so a cruise will normally end, and start again somewhere nearby the location of the yard where they have the dry docks. The various sub-contractors who will do different type of work needs to be contacted in order for them to bid for the jobs. The the contract with the particular yard needs to be signed soonest. This so all their work scopes and logistics can be planned accordingly as well.

The Seabourn Pride, in Dry Dock at HUD in Hong Kong, 1995

When the ship arrives the yard and the Dry Docking area, some specialists from the yard will come onboard to assist us with pulling the ship (by several tugboats) in to the Dry Dock. This needs to be done perfectly and without any engine power (or propellers moving) because the yard people have already placed "blocks" in the Dock bottom based upon the ship's design (shape, length, draft, etc), which the ship will finally sit on when all the water has been pumped out of the Dry Dock. This operation takes several hours and is painstaking slow. No room for any mistakes when this is done. So when the ship is in position, and a diver is under the ship inside the Dock, the Dock door will be closed and the water pumped out. The ship has a couple of mooring lines connected to the sides of the dock, which we use to adjust the ship based upon the diver and the Dock Master (the one in charge of that particular operation).

The ship sits on the blocks in the empty Dry Dock bottom.

The ship is then hooked up to shoreside power (land power), and connected with hoses with cooling water, in case we will use any of the generators while we are in the dock. Safety gangways for escape routes will be connected as well. The pumping of water continues, and the ship is slowly getting lower and lower down in the dock until it touches and sits safely on the blocks. And as soon as the dry dock is empty, and the ship is kind of operational, the ship's Management, Company representatives and yard representatives will together proceed down in the Dock bottom for an initial underwater hull inspection. This to see if there is any damages or items of concern like scratches, dents, missing paint, extensive growth of barnacles, or serious rust issues which needs to be addressed immediately. A more formal Survey of everything, including the cooling intakes, propellers, rudders, stabilizer fins, anti fouling paint (to prevent growth), status of the Echo sounder transducers, etc, will be done by an official Surveyor from a Classification Society (DNV, Lloyds, etc).


Inspection of the Underwater Hull.

As soon as the gangways have been connected to the ship and it is safe to use them, a swarm with contractors and yard people come onboard. They all have their assigned work places already, and they move to their locations around the ship to setup the workshops and their on site Offices. All the contractors as well as the yard workers are under the same time pressure (deadlineds) as the ship itself, since next cruise has already been sold and no delays are acceptable. It is like the ship suddenly has become a human ant farm, with people moving everywhere, with a noise level in some of the areas you only find in construction sites.            


 The dock is flooded, gate (door) opened, the ship has been shifted inside the dock before making it dry. The last picture shows the ship dry in the dock.
So, let's have a look at some pics from various Dry Docks over the years.

That is me, looking up at one of the propellers. Hmm, need some scrubbing under the hull.

The ship on the blocks in the Dry Dock.

In the Dry Dock.

The Bow Thrusters and the Bulbous bow.

 One of the ship's restaurants being ripped apart, and refurbished.

 Early hours, prior to Sunrise.

Under the bow.

In the Dry Dock.
Click to watch the short video.

Sometimes when in a Dry Dock, the Crew will temporarily be moved to a Hotel nearby the yard. This normally when a ship is without any services or if it is a small ship and a lot of (noisy) work will be done day and night. Buses will then bring the crew to and from the yard.


 These are crew from the Seabourn Pride.

Flooding the Dock.
Click to view short video.

And finally........
A picture from the Seabourn Legend.

Some hate Dry Docks, and some enjoy Dry Docks.


  1. Ya i remeber drydock with the spirit in lisbon i think 2009 cooking onboard while in dry dock for 450 contractors and staff!!
    Great fun!!!!


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