Mooring winch - Load test

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Mooring winch load test-winch.jpg

A mooring system prevents the ship from drifting away from a berth and holds the ship in position in relation to the shore loading / discharging equipments, which may have limited freedom of movement. Mooring lines may also assist in heaving the ship alongside a berth or another ship and can be used to assist in unberthing. A mooring winch is an integral part of the mooring system.

Mooring winch perform multitude of functions. They secure the shipboard end od mooring lines, provide for adjustment of the mooring line length to suit the mooring pattern in each port and compensate for changes in draft and tide. They serve to store the mooring line when not in use and to haul the ship into position against environmental or inertial forces. They also act as a safety device that release the line load in a controlled manner once the force in the line increase to the point of near-breakage. (Courtesy OCIMF:Mooring Equipment Guidelines)

Winches can be categorized by their control type (automatic ot manual tensioning), drive type (steam, hydraulic or electric), by the number of drums associated with each drive (single drum, double drum, triple drum), by the type of drums (split, undivided), by their brake type and brake application (band, disc, mechanical screw, spring applied), and by gear case type (open or closed-half filled with oil).


To check performance and condition of the mooring winches.

In the example given below, it is a 46,000 TDW Product tanker with four mooring winches (two in the poop deck and two in the upper deck).


Illustration Description
Identification tags

The first step is to check the various identification tags on the mooring winch - Winch type, Serial number, Manufacturing number, Hydraulic motor type, Motor number.

Mooring winch load test-gear backlash.JPG
Gear backlash measurement

The gap (backlash) between the two gear tooth in contact (gear wheel and pinion) is measured in this test. For this purpose a solder wire is placed on a tooth on the pinion wheel (connected to the hydraulic motor) and the motor is turned. After one round, when the tooth of the pinion contacts that of the gear wheel the solder is flattened to a thickness corresponding to the gap between the two tooth. This thickness is measured using a vernier caliper. It is compared to the design specification.

In this example the design backlash is 0.173 ~ 0.401 mm and the measured thickness is in the range of 0.19 ~ 0.22 mm.

Load checking

The winch is rated for a particular load according to design. This load is simulated using a weights attached to a wire rope and lifted vertically. The arrangement is shown in the figure. While considering the total load on the winch, we must also take the efficiency of the sheave, η. Considering there are three sheaves, load on the winch (F) and the total weight (W) is related by: F = W / η³.

In this case,

  • total weight = 2070 + 2025 + 2026 + 2021 + 2027 + 2028 + 2038 + 246 + 243 + 375 (beam) = 15099 Kg
  • η = 0.98
  • F = 15099 / 0.98³ = 16042 Kg
Mooring winch load test-speed.jpg
Speed checking

The winch is rated for a particular speed of heaving as per design. This is checked with load of 16 T (16042 Kg) on the winch. Two markings are made on the wire rope at a distance of 2 m. A vertical rod is placed near the rope and the time between when the first mark crosses and the second mark crossed the rod is measured.

From the time (T) the speed in meters per minute is calculated by 120 / T.

In this example the rated speed is 15 m/min and the time was measured as 7.45 sec. So the speed = 120 / 7.45 = 16.1 m/min.

Mooring winch load test-rpm.jpg
Winch rpm checking

The winch is rated for a particular rpm according to design. The speed is checked for loaded condition and no loaded condition. Certain ships have winches with two speeds. In such cases the following speed tests are conducted: heaving (lower speed, with load), heaving (lower speed, no load), pay out (lower speed, no load), heaving (high speed, no load), and pay out (high speed, no load).

The speed is checked up using an rpm gauge. A magnet with a slot is placed on the warping drum end and the probe is inserted in the slot (see the photo on the left).

In this case for the respective rated speed of 9.4, 9.4, 9.4, 28.2, and 28.2 rpm for the respective tests (order as above), the observed speed is 9.8, 10.9, 11.3, 33.2, and 35.1 rpm.

Mooring winch load test-brake test.JPG
Brake holding test

The brake is the heart of the mooring system as it secures the drum and thereby the mooring line at the shipboard end. It also act as a safety device in case the load in the line becomes excessive, by rendering and allowing the line to shed its load before it breaks (at MBL or Maximum Breaking Load). For normal operation the recommended (OCIMF) setting on the brake is 60 % of the MBL of the rope. For new ships this is tested for 80 % of the line's MBL since brakes may deteriorate in service.

Every ship is supplied with a brake testing kit (in this case bracket type brake test kit) to test the brake at least once in a year. The break testing kit simulates the load on the line by means of hydraulic pressure producing a torque on the winch drum as shown in the figure below. For a particular load, the pressure can be calculated as shown in an example below.

In this example:

  • Winch capacity : 16 T x 15 m/min
  • Mooring line MBL : 51 T
  • Brake holding force : Po = 40.8 T at first layer (80 % of MBL)
  • Drum diameter : Dd = 48 cm
  • Rope diameter : Dr = 2.8 cm
  • Effective area of hydraulic jack : A = 33.2 cm²
  • Test force moment arm : L = 132.5 cm
  • Rope PCD : Rpcd = Dd + Dr = 50.8 cm
  • Brake torque : Tb = Po x Rpcd / 2 = 1036.3 T-cm
  • Force on hydraulic jack : F = Tb / L = 7.8 T = 7800 Kg
  • Therefore required pressure : P = F / A = 234.9 kg/cm² (at 80 % MBL) = 230.5 bar

Now the setting is made as per the drawing with the bracket connected on the drum flanges (setup above). The turn handle is used to tighten the brake as the brake band screw tighten with respect to the brake nut. The pressure is increased in the hydraulic jack using a manual pump. After the pressure reaches the calculated value (here 230.5 bar), a marking is made on the brake band. It is held for a minute and the marking is checked to see if there is any slip.

Mooring winch load test-clutch.JPG
Clutch operation

The clutch is used to engage the drums with the main shaft. There is slot in the drum where the clutch slides and locks in. Once engaged, the drum turns with the main shaft. The main shaft is connected to the two drums (in this case) and one end connected to the warping drum and other to the gear wheel. This gear wheel is driven by another gear that is connected to the hydraulic motor.

During this test it is checked whether the clutch operates smoothly and that the locking pins to secure the clutch in position is also proper.

Turn handle (brake handle) operation

The brake handle operation is checked for its smooth operation.

Mooring winch load test-hyd unit.jpg
Dry running

The mooring winch is subjected to dry running (without load) for five minutes. During this time it is checked for abnormal noise coming from the gear case. Also the bearings are checked for any temperature rise (overheating).

The hydraulic pressure on the test supply lines and the voltage across the electric motor (driving the shore hydraulic pump) is checked.


The outcome of the test has to be noted down and any suggestion has to be mentioned in the inspection report.

External links


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