How is Ballasting Done?
Ballasting on a ship is done through openings provided at the lower most portion of the ship’s hull. The openings are connected to a ballast system through piping. Ship ballast system has dedicated ballast pumps for the ballasting process. For safety purpose, non return valves are provided in the pipelines near the openings to prevent sea water from entering the ship and vice-verse. The Ship’s ballast system, along with the pumps, is located at the lower most regions of the engine room and below the sea-water line, to provide the necessary suction head to the ballast pumps. Various factors such as ship’s external and interior layout, loading capacity, ballast tanks capacity, time taken for ballasting and de-ballasting etc are taken into account before starting the ballasting process. Continuous watch is also kept on all ballast tank levels through the ship’s automation system until the whole process is over.
Without proper ballasting of all tanks, no ship can sail safely. Good ballasting not only helps in providing adequate stability and trims to the ship but also reduces stresses on hull, helps in smooth maneuvering process, and reduces rolling and pitching.
The ballasting and de-ballasting process generally occurs at the ports before the cargo is loaded onto the ships. The process takes place simultaneously with the cargo loading or unloading process. However, ballasting and de-ballasting can also occur while the ship is in transit, especially during rough sea, change in wind conditions, and several internal factors.