What is Superstructure on a Ship?
A superstructure is an extended construction of any building or platform that rises above the rest of the building or platform in a distinct manner. The word comes from a combination of two Latin words, the Latin prefix ‘super’ means in addition or above or in excess of, whereas the stem word ‘structure’ means to build or to heap up. Thus, superstructure means to add a construction to an already existing structure. In ships this is the name given to the part of the ship that emerges from the deck. However any mast, sails, any armaments or arsenal are not included in this category.
The size of the superstructure has a great influence on the mobility of the vessels. They are designed in a manner, so that, they add value and hinder the speed and mobility in the least. The superstructure is mostly designed in fashion as well. This is because it is the most easily visible part of the ship, in fact it is the identification of the ship, and so the designers try to provide it with the identity that is unique.
The design may differ from ship to ship. Therefore in some ships we may find it to be sticking out vertically and strongly from a relatively flat deck. The best examples of these are the aircraft carriers. These are huge in size and have a vast and flat deck that also acts as the runway for the aircrafts to take off and land. The lone standing constructed figure acts a multipurpose center. It is a control tower of the aircrafts, it is the operational center for all the activities on the vessel, and it is also the work station of a majority of the technical staff. Therefore a superstructure serves many purposes.
In many ships the superstructure is broader and bigger in size and area. For e.g. the structure of a cruise ship is extended from the base that is flat and covers the entire deck in many layers or floors. The extended structure would be spread all over the lower floors with a few floors added on the top. At the final extension, one would find a towering construction which would act the crown of the beautiful vessel. Most of the cruise liners and passenger ships opt for this design, because apart from beautifying the vessel it provides with precious space and room for the passengers. In addition to the living accommodation there are many other activities and recreational exercises that require space, thus the elevated broad superstructure is the most suitable solution to the need as well as design.
In most cases such constructions and designs add another dimension to the engineering aspect of the vessel as well. It gives it stability and strength. But the best part is that it gives a lot of options to the engineers and the construction designers regarding the technical base of the ship and the betterment of it. Superstructure has gradually become a necessity in modern sea carriers.
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I have always wondered why so many large ships have flat superstructures. On the biggest ships why is the air resistance not a consideration? Obviously the water resistance is more of a concern but a flat surface of several hundred square meters must be of concern.
Why is there not even an attempt to mitigate this?