Ship cradle

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Shetland ferry, MV Bigga, standing upon its cradle
Ship's cradle without ship

A Ship cradle is a support, made of wood or metal, to hold a ship or boat upright on land so that the vessel can be built or repaired. The vessel is chocked up by wooden chocks and fixed on the cradle. The ship cradle is built near the seashore, river side or water side or in a dry dock.


Sometimes the whole support is called a "cradle", sometimes each section of this support is called a cradle. The cradle can be standing on the dock floor or it can be equipped with wheels so that the ship standing upon it can be transported from the dry docking installation to a parking area. For smaller boats, the cradle is equipped with rubber-tyred wheels, for larger and more heavy ships, the cradle is equipped with steel rail wheels.


Most cradles with steel wheels can only be transported in the longitudinal direction of the cradle. The empty cradle that is shown here is equipped with wheels that can be rotated in the transverse direction, so that the ship can be transported also over rails in the transverse direction.

The fishing boat in the picture can also be transported in the longitudinal as well as the transverse direction. In this case a transverse carriage is used between the cradle and the rails on the shipyard.