Ship cradle

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

A Ship cradle is a supporting tool, 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, sand bag or any fixtures and fixed on the cradle. The ship cradle usually is built near the seashore, river side or water side or in a dry dock.


Sometimes the whole supporting tool is called a "cradle", sometimes each section of this supporting tool may be called a cradle. The cradle can be standing on the dock floor or it can be equipped with wheels, which are running on the railways, that the ship, sitting upon it, could be moved from the dry docking facilitates to a parking area. For smaller boats, the cradle is equipped with rubber-tyred wheels for transportation from one place to another place. For large and more heavy ships, the cradle is equipped with steel rail wheels.


Most cradles with steel wheels can only be transported in one direction (longitudinal or transverse direction) on the cradle rail. The empty cradle that is shown here is equipped with wheels which could be rotated in the transverse direction, so that the ship can be transported over the 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.