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Ship's Deck Gear

The term "ship's gear" is used to describe that gear and equipment aboard ship that is used for cargo transfer activities and deck operations. Ship's gear can be divided into four categories:

  • Standing rigging.
  • Running rigging.
  • Deck fittings.
  • Deck machinery.


Standing rigging gear includes the rigging that supports masts or king posts. This gear includes the following:

Shrouds are heavy wire ropes that provide athwartship support for the mast or king posts. Two or more shrouds are used on either side of a mast or king post. They are secured to the outboard side of the deck or to the bulwark to provide maximum support.

Turnbuckles are internally threaded collars turning on two screws threaded in opposite directions. They are used to secure and to take up the slack in the shrouds and stays.

Stays and Backstays are heavy wires similar to shrouds. The difference is that they will lead in a forward or aft direction. They are found at the mast where the jumbo boom (heavy lift boom) is located. When they support the mast from a forward direction, they are called stays. When they support the mast from an aft (back) direction, they are called backstays.


This gear includes the moving or movable parts that are used to hoist or operate gear (such as cargo runners, topping lifts, and guy tackles).

Standing Rigging Gear


These are the devices that are used to secure standing rigging, running rigging, and mooring lines.

Bitts are heavy metal bed plates with two iron or steel posts. They are used on ships for securing mooring or towing lines. Usually there is a set forward and after each chock.

Chocks are heavy fittings secured to the deck. Lines are passed through them to bollards on the pier. The types of chocks used are closed, open, roller, and double roller.

Cleats are metal fittings having two projecting horns. They are used for securing lines.

Pad Eyes are fixtures welded to a deck or bulkhead. They have an eye to which lines or tackle are fastened and are used for securing or handling cargo.

A bulwark is the wall around any deck exposed to the elements. This includes the weather deck, the poop deck, the fore deck, and any deck on the superstructure. On top of the bulwark is a flat rail (or plate) called the rail. Pad eyes and cleats are often welded to the rail.

Deck Fittings


This includes the standard machinery that is found on the decks of Army watercraft. The size and shape of the deck machinery may vary depending upon type of vessel, but the operating principles remain the same.

Cargo Winches are power-driven machines used to lift, lower, or move cargo. Winches are classified according to their source of power. Electric winches are standard equipment on most vessels. An electric winch has a steel base on which the winch drum, motor, gears, shafts, and brakes are mounted. The drum, which has cable wound on it, is usually smooth with flanged ends. It revolves on a horizontal axis and is driven through single or double reduction gears by an electric motor (usually direct current). A solenoid brake and a mechanical brake are fitted to the motor shaft. The winch is located on deck or on a deckhouse. The winch controls consist of a master controller or switchbox located on a pedestal at the end of the hatch square and a group of relays, contactors switches, and resistors located near the winch motor.

Electric Winch

The Windlass is a special type of winch used to raise and lower the anchors and to handle the forward mooring lines. It consists of a wildcat (a steel casting in the form of a deeply grooved drum with projecting ribs [whelps]) used to grip the anchor chain, controls for connecting or disconnecting the wildcat from the engine, and a friction brake which can be set to stop the wildcat when disconnected. There are horizontal drums at each end of the windlass for warping.


The Capstan is a vertically mounted winch head used aboard ship when mechanical power is required for raising anchor, lifting heavy weights, or for any similar work. It is a cast steel drum mounted on a vertical spindle with the largest diameters at top and bottom and the smallest in the middle to allow the rope around it to surge up or down as the number of turns are increased. The drum is fixed to the spindle by keys.


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Page last modified: 07-07-2011 12:46:34 ZULU