This is San Diego Bay

Dry Docks, Harbor Excursion
October 3, 2000

When you need to work on a ship, or build one for that matter, you need a way to hoist it out of the water and keep it there. Then you need to be able to float it again when you're finished. That's where the dry dock comes in.

See how tiny this navy frigate looks in this dry dock.

How does it work?

They pump water into the ballast chambers on each side of the dry dock to sink it. Then they move the ship into the center chamber and place the supporting frame around the hull. When the ship is well supported, they pump air into the ballast chambers to refloat the dry dock with the ship in place. Then they are ready to work on the ship.

Here is a much larger ship in dry dock. This one has been divided into sections. This is the modern way to build ships too—in sections.

Here's a close-up of the side of a dry dock. This one had a Turkish ship in for repairs. Some of the ballast chamber openings are in the foreground.

Page last updated November 4, 2000.