When a vessel enters port, whether it’s for bunkering, discharging or cargo loading, it is quite important that the vessel is properly secured to the berth and cannot move from its position. If it can, it can be very dangerous for both crew on board and ashore, but also for the vessels cargo operations, especially when operating with dangerous goods.

Being the most important component of the mooring system, mooring winches are present on every ship.

Mooring winches contain a drum were rope, chain or cable can be wrapped around. They pay out line from the mooring winch to allow the rope to reach shore, where it can be fastened to cleats and other points. After fastening, the slack can be taken up to pull the ship properly aside and keep her there. To avoid unexpected release the winches are locked after operation.

Most mooring winches are operated by an electric motor, driven by the vessels power plant. There are also alternatives used and upcoming like hydraulic operated, gas operated (controlled with gas generators) and air operated (operated by using pressurized air).in a drum were rope, chain or cable can be wrapped around. They pay out line from the mooring winch to allow the rope to reach shore, where it can be fastened to cleats and other points. After fastening, the slack can be taken up to pull the ship properly aside and keep her there. To avoid unexpected release the winches are locked after operation.

Various variables, such as the type and size of the vessel, the weight of the mooring lines and the level of stress that may occur when berthed, determine which design is the best to use.
There are various configurations for the mooring winches; in general there are several units to be found on the stern and the bow of the vessel. Placing the units on these positions ensures that the vessel cannot move forward or backward anymore. Sometimes additional units on the side of the ship are installed, this is usually the case on very long ships.

Mooring winches always have a manual control panel on or near the unit itself. More modern winches also have the remote control ability, allowing crew to operate the unit on a distance. This to create more safety for the crew while operating. All crewmembers are required to clear the deck when operating remotely, since the mooring lines can be dangerous for unwary crew or other people as they may not be aware of the mooring winch being in operation.

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