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SHIP STABILITY

Intact Stability of Surface Ships:

The fundamental concept behind the understanding of intact stability of a floating body is that of
Equilibrium. There are three types of equilibrium conditions that can occur, for a floating ship,
depending on the relation between the positions of centre of gravity and centre of buoyancy.

1. Stable Equilibrium:

Study the figure below. A stable equilibrium is achieved when the vertical position of G is lower than the
position of transverse metacenter (M). So, when the ship heels to an angle (say theta- Ɵ), the center of
buoyancy (B) now shifts to B1. The lateral distance or lever between the weight and buoyancy in this
condition results in a moment that brings the ship back to its original upright position.

The moment resulting in uprighting of the ship to its original orientation is called Righting Moment. The
lever that causes the righting of a ship is the separation between the vertical lines passing through G and
B1. This is called the Righting Lever, and abbreviated as GZ (refer to the figure above).

An important relation between metacentric height (GM) and righting lever (GZ) can also be obtained
from the figure above.

2. Neutral Equilibrium:

This is the most dangerous situation possible, for any surface ship, and all precautions must be taken to
avoid it. It occurs when the vertical position of CG coincides with the transverse metacentre (M). As
shown in the figure below, in such a condition, no righting lever is generated at any angle of heel. As a
result, any heeling moment would not give rise to a righting moment, and the ship would remain in the
heeled position as long as neutral stability prevails. The risk here is, at a larger angle of heel in a
neutrally stable shift, an unwanted weight shift due to cargo shifting might give rise to a condition of
unstable equilibrium.

3. Unstable Equilibrium:

An unstable equilibrium is caused when the vertical position of G is higher than the position of
transverse metacenter (M). So, when the ship heels to an angle (say theta- Ɵ), the center of buoyancy
(B) now shifts to B1. But the righting lever is now negative, or in other words, the moment created
would result in creating further heel until a condition of stable equilibrium is reached. If the condition of
stable equilibrium is not reached by the time the deck is not immersed, the ship is said to capsize.