Bilge and ballast systems for general cargo ships

Arrangements of bilge main

The bilge main is arranged to drain any watertight compartment other than ballast, oil or water tanks and to discharge the contents overboard. The number of pumps and their capacity depend upon the size, type and service of the vessel. All bilge suctions must be fitted with suitable strainers, which in the machinery space would be mud boxes positioned at floorplate level for easy access. A vertical drop pipe would lead down to the bilge.

The emergency bilge suction or bilge injection valve is used to prevent flooding of the ship. It is a direct suction from the machinery space bilge which is connected to the largest capacity pump or pumps. An emergency bilge pump is required for passenger ships but may also be fitted as an extra on cargo ships. It must be a completely independent unit capable of operating even if submerged.

A centrifugal pump with a priming device is usually used, driven by an electric motor housed in an air bell. The power supply is arranged from the emergency generator. A typical system is shown in Figure . The various pumps and lines are interconnected to some extent so that each pump can act as an alternative or standby for another.

The ballast system

The ballast system is arranged to ensure that water can be drawn from any tank or the sea and discharged to any other tank or the sea as required to trim the vessel. Combined or separate mains for suction and discharge may be provided. Where a tank or cargo space can be used for ballast or dry cargo then either a ballast or bilge connection will be required. The system must therefore be arranged so that only the appropriate pipeline is in service; the other must be securely blanked or closed off. Where tanks are arranged for either oil or ballast a change-over chest must be Fitted in the pipeline so that only the ballast main or the oil transfer main is connected to the tank.

Bilge and ballast systems

Fig: Bilge and ballast systems on board

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