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Everything you never knew that you didn't know and probably never wanted to know about ships.

by Apr 16

IMO is the ship's identification number. IMO stands for International Maritime Organization. This number is used because ships change ownership and ports multiple times throughout their lifespan. So, the IMO number helps prevent fraud. You can look up an IMO at various webpages, just google "look up ship imo number".

The usual order of things from top to bottom is the owner name, ship name, name of the flag they fly, and then the IMO. This one would be the "Titan Loyalty" and owned by Sameer. Looking it up: We find that the current name is SJ Bravo, and it was in fact once called Titan Loyalty, owned by Sameer. However today it's the SJ Bravo. I can't see the current owner on that site because it's behind a pay gate. That's fine, that's not the point anyway.

Often times when a ship is moored, you'll see circular devices attached to the mooring lines. These devices keep rats off of the ship. If only it'd been invented sooner, right?

The circle with the line through it is the Plimsoll Line, named after Samuel Plimsoll, a member of British Parliament who in 1876, created the standard. What the Plimsoll Line does is it tells you where the load capacity of the ship is based on how much it sinks into the water. The A and B on the two sides of the Plimsoll Line are the ship's registration authority; in this case, the American Bureau of Shipping. The thing on the right side that looks almost like a car or truck's shift diagram are more nuanced load limit lines. From bottom to top, W stands for Winter salt water, S is Summer Salt Water, T is Tropical Salt Water, F is Fresh Water, and TF is Tropical Fresh Water.

Some ships have what's called a "bulbous bow" which is the protrusion you see sticking out from the keel on this ship. It reduces drag and increases both speed and fuel economy. See that symbol on the left just above it? It's to the left of the two (x) symbols. That's there to warn smaller ships like tug boats that the bulb is there, so they know not to get too close. The (x) symbols indicate bow thrusters, which are small propulsion devices that help the ship maneuver sideways, which helps when docking and undocking. They need to be marked, again so that smaller vessels know to stay away from there.

The arrows point toward posts called "bitts" which allow tug boats to attach lines for tugging the ship around. Nearly ever vessel has bitts, from small personal water craft to large supertankers, but on smaller vessels, bitts are often used simply for mooring.

These are called "pigeon holes" and they're basically a ladder carved out of the hull of a barge for workers to use to board them. This is because barges are usually unmanned, as they're essentially just a flat box that gets shoved around by tug boats. Sometimes, though, a line has to be secured, and so the pigeon holes are there to allow for easier boarding.

Paint jobs on ships are often two tone. You'll have the paint that you can always see, but below it's usually a different color. This not only helps you see where the water line is, but it's often done with an entirely different kind of paint that's more expensive, as it's designed to hold up better against salt water and protects against fouling such as barnacles and other crud that can attach to or build up on the hull, in addition to protecting against salt water corrosion..

There is a special type of ship pilot called a "harbor pilot", sometimes also called a maritime or bar pilot. These pilots know the waters in a specific area extremely well. So they know where the rocks are, the reefs, and other obstructions. They come out to larger ships in a smaller craft and the white and red rectangles with the yellow border here show these people where to board the ship. A rope ladder is thrown down at that location for them to board. Then they take over as a temporary captain to get the ship safely through the area. There's sometimes a diagonal stair case going down the side of the ship and the rope ladder is lowered where it'll be safest to climb and then make it to the stair case.


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