Gangway and Types of Gangways Used in the Shipping World

The equipment used to help a person get into (embark) and out (disembark) of a ship or a boat is known as a gangway. Technically, the gangway is like a smooth and sloping ramp on the upper deck’s sides of boats; gangways are mainly used by passengers or crew to enter or exit the ship and are sometimes used for loading and unloading cargo. They are a platform which provides safe access to maritime vessels, trucks and rail cars.

A gangway must meet the following requirements-It should be at least 20 inches wide, and handrails and midrails should protect each side. The former should have a minimum height of 33 inches, and railings must be made of wood, chain, wire, rope etc. Chain, wire, and rope railings must be tight.

A gangway must be clear, and nothing should be kept on it, including bridles or hoses. A straight ladder must be employed if a gangway cannot be used. A net must be held to prevent workers from falling into the waters or to a lower level from the upper storey.

The word gangway originates from the Anglo-Saxon language. Gangways that are used now can be of two varieties:

  • Foldable
  • Some gangways are built in such a way that they are constructed on the ship itself.
Photo by mavericklee/Depositphotos

Various types of gangways are used today. The same can be explained as follows:

  • Beam Brow Fibreglass Gangways: As the name suggests, these gangways are fibreglass. The width of these gangways is 24 feet, designed to suit those ships used for warfare activities. Other features of this gangway include a handrail that can be folded and a completely non-slipping surface.
  • Beam Brow Aluminium Gangways: Made of aluminium, these gangways are welded and quite durable. The surface of the ramp is such that there is no problem with water accumulating. Also, the ramp’s non-slippery surface ensures no accidents are caused. This gangway is designed to suit ships of various sizes, so anyone can opt for the aluminium gangplank.
  • Truss Brow Aluminium Gangways: These ramps are constructed from heavy-duty aluminium as per the required industry standards and are designed to fit ships of all sizes. The ramp has a rough surface so that the people walking on the ramp do not slip.
  • Aluminium Gangways: These gangways have foldable handle rails, so storing them becomes easy. The surface of the aluminium gangway is rough (non-slippery) so that no accidents are caused. The ramp is designed so that there cannot be any water-logging problems.

Several other gangways are available that are used in ports and harbours. The same can be explained as follows:

  • Light-Duty Gangways: Made of aluminium and steel, they are lighter in weight and are used mainly in residential ports. The materials used to ensure that there is no corrosion whatsoever. Another feature of this gangway is that it has foldable handrails making it easy to store the gangway. The cost of these gangways is also quite affordable.
  • Medium-Duty Gangways: They also come at a very affordable rate and are mainly used in private and residential ports. The materials used to build the medium-duty gangway are aluminium and steel. These two materials offer long-term durability to the ramp.
  • Heavy-Duty Gangways: They are used in private harbours with cruise ferries and other boats. These ramps are made of steel and aluminium per the required ISO standards. The design of the ramp allows even handicapped people to enter and exit it safely.

With the help of gangways, entry and exit to ships become very easy. This is the most important feature and advantage of ramps in water transport.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Where does the name gangway comes from?

This word is derived from an old definition of a gang, which means a going, a voyage, a journey, or a passage. In the 20th century, the gangway was a common word for giving a command and meant ‘clear the way.

2. Where is the gangway located on a ship?

A gangway refers to a platform, a walkway or a ramp connecting the ship to land. It allows the passengers and cargo to embark and disembark quickly and safely. It is usually situated on the upper deck.

3. What is the difference between an accommodation ladder and a gangway?

All ships measuring more than 30 metres lengthwise must have a gangway with a sturdy railing. Accommodation ladders are rigged in the fore and aft of the vessel, facing the astern. Their maximum angle of inclination from the horizontal must not be over 55 degrees.

4. What are light-duty gangways?

They are made of aluminium and steel, are lighter and used mainly in residential ports. They have foldable handrails making it easy to store the gangway. They are also quite affordable.

5. What are the types of gangways used in the shipping industry?

There are roughly seven types of gangways used according to the vessel. They are classified according to their design, functioning and the materials used in their construction. Some include aluminium gangways, fibreglass, light-duty, medium-duty and heavy gangways.

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