Floating docks for ships

The use of a floating dock began, practically, at the same time as navigation. Over the years, its design has been perfected and the new creations are much better adjusted to the real needs of shipping companies. Below, we explain the main characteristics of this type of construction.


What is a floating dock for ships?

In case you have asked yourself this question, then here we explain what a floating dock for a ship is. It consists of a submersible structure composed of several tanks. The objective is to introduce a specific ship into the dock, support it on some of its blocks and raise the ship while the water is drained from the previously flooded tanks. The ultimate goal is to be able to access the ship when dry in order to carry out the following tasks:

  • Hull maintenance.
  • Checking the correct functioning of the propellers.
  • Checking if the shafts are aligned.
  • Accessing the bottom valves and associated machinery for the correct operation of the engine.


How are floating docks for ships designed?

Floating docks for ships have to be designed using specific software that performs the corresponding calculations. We emphasize that it is about building a structure that will be deposited in the water and that must be resistant, easy to move and with enough stability to be able to beach a ship easily.


What are the parts of a floating dock?

There are two and they each complement one another. We explain their characteristics in the following list:

  • The pontoon. This is where the ship will be supported and is the most important part. In fact, it is in charge of moving the weight of the ship and the dock. It also resists the transverse bending that the weight of the ship will produce and the pressure exerted by the water in the lower area.
  • The walls/sidewalls. They provide stability while the pontoon is underwater. They also provide the necessary space for professionals to carry out their work. Normally, the use of cranes, valves and pumps is taken into account in order to carry out the corresponding maintenance work. A good part of its structure is made up of water that acts as ballast. They are essential to regulate the draft of the dock and to maintain the necessary rigidity in the structure.


How many types of floating docks are there?

As mentioned above, the creation of floating docks goes hand in hand with navigation. The first known dock of this type dates back to 1700. Since then, different types have been created to better adapt to new ships. Today, there are three variants.


The sides are continuous and the pontoons are sectioned. The latter can be separated from the walls and are self-carrying. Considering their length, they are somewhat weaker than other types as the sides are the only reinforcement. As they include double bulkheads to join the pontoons and have such large walls, their weight is greater. As an advantage, they can be towed even in an ocean, thus facilitating their use in any port.

Box or one-piece

The pontoon and sides are continuous. It is stronger and lighter than the other types and adapts very well to changes. They are towable, although depending on their dimensions they do not adapt well to the open sea. If the Rennie type can be built at sea, this variant cannot, which requires it to be built and then launched as if it were a ship.


It is made up of several cross-sections. The joints facilitate displacement, but they must be rigid to prevent them from losing their alignment or rotating in an undesirable way. It is important to consider ballasting and water bailing to make bending more natural. Their self-supporting nature allows them to be built at sea.

Advantages of a floating dry dock
Do you know the advantages of a floating dock? We explain them here. Photo by Freepik.


What are the advantages of a floating dock?

It is necessary to evaluate the different benefits offered by the use of a floating dock. Find out which are the most important ones:

  • It is not necessary to have a front-line space on a dock or in a port.
  • They can be built in a shipyard and then towed to where they are needed. This reduces production costs.
  • Mobility is gained and it is very easy to move the vessel to the working dock.
  • The dock adopts different heels and trim to facilitate stability and reduce impact.
  • Each dock accommodates vessels larger than its own length.
  • The design shifts to make dredging maneuvers easier.
  • The progressive increase in length is quite easy.

What maintenance does a floating dock require?

Maintenance is based on three key points: the structure, the pumps and the valves. Additionally, personnel and equipment must only travel on the gangways or cranes. The tidal variation must be observed to make each operation more efficient.


What does Suisca Group offer?

Everything a ship needs when it makes a stopover. The company’s expertise in solving any problem is backed by 40 years of experience. Suisca Group has also become the reliable maritime partner wherever it is needed. Customers can also access their account to check invoices, quotations and work in progress.

With 24-hour personalized assistance, services and products are provided in various ports around the world. We rely on direct contact with the customer to make it easier for each vessel to make a stopover and continue its voyage. Our supplies are of high quality and help face any situation with a guarantee of total success. We work in the most important ports of Southern Europe and West Africa.

We always offer the best service when it comes to the perfect floating dock for any fleet of ships. We are always pleased to become the best support in order to make work easier for the professionals of the sector.