4 Types of Ship Launching Methods

Launching of ships is one of the most important procedures of the entire ship construction process. The ship launching slipway, a structure consisting of a sloping way down to the water from the shipyard, is an essential aspect of the ship launching procedure and has been extensively used for launching newly made or repaired ships.

Last few years have seen a number of developments in the field of ship launching systems for improving the safety and stability of the ship in the water.

Different types of Ship launching methods

Traditionally, ship launching in the water is done using four main types of methods. These methods are:

  1. Gravitational type launching
  2. Floating-out type launching
  3. Mechanical Type launching
  4. Airbag launching

1. Gravitational type launching : The gravitational type launching system is further divided into three main types, which are:

  • Longitudinal Oiled Slideway Launching
  • Longitudinal Steel – Roller Slideway Launching
  • Side Oiled Slideway Launching

Longitudinal Oiled Slideway Launching

The longitudinal oiled slideway launching is one of the oldest forms of launching systems. Using this system, the ship slides on a ship launch rollerslideway and under its own weight enters the water. Oil or wax is used to assist in the sliding process.

The main advantage of this method is that it uses simple equipment and can be used for vessels with different tonnage and types. However, the coating of oil which is used to slide the ship smoothly can pollute the water. There is also danger of huge pressure on the front part of the ship during the launch.

Longitudinal Steel – Roller Slideway Launching

In this type of ship launching method steel rollers are used instead of oil to reduce friction during sliding. This method uses high-intensity steel rollers, security devices, and steel board for the launching. The steel plate on the wooden slide helps in the sliding process and the slide rails help them to protect from steel balls.

Net bags are used at the end of the slide to collect the steel balls so that they can be used again. This method is most effective and easy to start. However, the initial installation charges are high.

Side Oiled Slideway Launching

ship side launch

The side oiled slideway launching system is also one of the most widely used ship launching systems. This type of system is mainly of two types.

In the first type, the slideway extends into the water and the ship slides into the water using the slideway. In the second method the slideway doesn’t go until the water and the ship along with the frame slides into the water. The ship then becomes steady based on its own buoyancy and stability factors. Such launching requires the ship to have great stability and strength.

2. Floating- Out Type Launching The floating out type launching is carrying out for ships which are built in dry-docks and are launched by filling the dock with water. (Technically this is not a ship launching procedure)ship in dry dock The floating-out type launching system is a simple, effective, and safe procedure. Though the initial investment is high, this type of method is most widely used by shipbuilders.

3. Mechanical Type Launching  

The mechanical type ship launching system can be divided into following types:

  • Longitudinal mechanized slideway launching
  • Two points longitudinal mechanized chute launching
  • Wedge-shaped mechanized vehicles launching
  • Slope change transverse area mechanized vertical chute launching
  • High-low track slide mechanization launching
  • mechanical ship launchMechanized comb slide
  • Lifting ship equipment

All the above mentioned system requires a mechanical feature to launch a ship. The construction and maintenance expenditure is high, whereas the mobility and controlling factors of the systems are not up-to-the-mark. All these methods are mainly used for smaller size vessels and cannot be used for large, high tonnage ships.

4. Air bags Launching

Launching ships using air bags is an innovative and safe technique to launch ships in water. These airbags are usually cylindrical in shape with hemispherical heads at both ends. They are made of reinforced rubber layers and have high load capacity. This method can easily be used in all types and sizes of vessels.

airbags launching

Do you think we have missed any important ship launching method? Let us  know in the comments below.

References- Evergreen

Image credits – flickr, murdoconline.net, worldmaritimenews, Evergreen

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  1. Peter Gowling says

    Can anyone tell me what a “Trigger of Port Fore Dog Shore” is.? This item ( resembling a large block of wood with a rope through a central hole)
    I suggest it is the “king-pin” which ,when removed, releases the supporting timbers holding a vessel upright in the construction dock and allows the vessel to slide down the slipway to actual launching. I also assume that there would be a similar “trigger block” on the Starboard side of the ship which would be removed simultaneously.


  2. says

    Great post! I think that side launching is one of the most popular method for most small to medium vessels.

    It’s great to also note that ship launching using marine airbags is claimed to be more eco-friendly than oiled slideway launching and more cost effective than the other options. I like how this blog post highlights the pros & cons of airbag launching in an infographic: http://max-groups.com/ship-launching-airbags-best-ship-launching-method/ . You might wanna check it out.

  3. lawson says

    does the airbag method also work on gravity? except that it uses airbags instead of slideways/rollers?

  4. Andrew says

    Has anyone ever had any legal ramifications due to damage inflicted on nearby property owners caused by a wave resulting from the launching of a vessel

  5. moha says

    dear sir

    i would like to cooperate for marine writing and also regarding shaft alignment i would like to asking help for some points.
    highly appreciated if you be kind and help

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