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A Ship Ballasting is a procedure wherein the seawater is taken in and out of the vessel. Usually, it is done when the ship is at the pier or at the sea. 


The ballast water is actually the sea water that’s carried by ships or vessels in their ballast tank. The primary reason for this is in order for a ship to secure its stability, trim, and fundamental integrity and strength. To carry out such ballasting operation, ship’s are equipping ballast tanks with piping system along with high capacity ballast pumps. Every ship is required to conduct ballasting or de-ballasting due to the following reasons:

  • When ships or vessels enter a channel
  • Performing loading and unloading of cargoes
  • Crossing canals like the Suez Canal and Panama Canal
  • Whenever ships are going for anchoring, berthing, or docking

During the ancient times, a ship or vessel generally carries substantial ballast to make it more stable. For the most part, when cargoes are just minimal or there is no cargo to be carried at all. However, difficulties were encountered as time passed particularly at the portion when there are loading and taking off of solid cargo.



Understanding more: Ballasting and De-Ballasting

The absence of loads, goods, or cargo makes a ship to become light in weight. As a result, this can affect the ship’s balance and resistance. Because of this, ballast water is filled in the ship’s dedicated tanks to maintain its stability. Through the high capacity ballast pumps, tanks are suffused with ballast water. This procedure done on ships is called “Ballasting.”

On the other hand, when the vessel is loaded with cargo, the vessel’s stability is preserved by the cargo weight itself. Therefore, in this case, there is no need to fill in the ship with the ballast water. This process is known as the de-ballasting. This is the procedure when taking out the ballast water to empty to ballast tanks.



While regulating a ballast system in ships, very crucial points must be taken into consideration.

Being careful is very important in conducting ballasting in ships. Ensuring that the tank is not over-filled is very crucial because this can cause damage to the tanks as the pressure vacuum valves are in lower capacity than of the pump. Furthermore, the filling valves will automatically close as the tanks reach the set point level. In which, this has been pre-set.

Being careful as well in not to cause the pump dry or manoeuvre the pump with closed discharge valves is very important. This can be dealt with through an automated system. It basically secures that the pump will not begin until all the needed valves are already opened. The valves can be placed into an auto mode. Essentially, this ensures that the valve can be closed automatically the moment the ballast tank is already permeated with the required amount of water. Or for some instance, the set point is hit.

It is also very critical to observe that the motors should not be overloaded when it is time to fill the ballast tanks with ballast pumps. If this happens, the number of valves opened to the ballast tanks must be reduced immediately until the current is within the allowable range. The alarm or signal of the ballast pump motor overload is administered for the ballast pump safety.



The Ballasting and De-Ballasting procedures can be done in many ways.

  • Using gravity in transferring water between the tanks
  • Utilizing the ballast pumps in ballasting the tanks
  • Employing gravity in either ballasting or de-ballasting tanks from the sea
  • Using stripping ejectors to de-ballast the tanks
  • Using the ballast pumps to de-ballast the tanks