This illustration of the 1849-built steamship Pacific
reveals how passengers of the day regarded ocean travel.
Illustration courtesy of Wikipedia
When was the last time you were in rough seas?  
While most passengers know what to do in the event of rough seas – ginger, patches, heavy food, etc, few give much thought to the technology that ensures their comfort at all times: the stabilizer fins.

The first ship to feature stabilization technology was the Conte di SavoiaBuilt for the Italia Line in 1932, the Conte di Savoia featured two enormous gyroscopes hidden forward in her hull.  By measuring the ship’s relative position to the ocean, the gyroscopes attempted to counter-act the rolling motion by rotating at high revolutions.  For passengers, presence of this unique machinery became the key highlight on many behind-the-scenes tours.

 Gyroscopic stabilizers aboard Conte di Savoia.
Photo courtesy of Project Michelangelo

The gyroscopes had their drawbacks.  In extremely rough seas, they were unable to effectively counter the ship’s rolling, and in fact helped to exaggerate it.  This caused the Conte di Savoia to actually maintain her severe list longer than similar vessels without any stabilization technologies.  Their general ineffectiveness, coupled with the enormous machinery spaces needed and high maintenance costs contributed to their demise as a viable technology.

Fast-forward to 2010.  All modern cruise ships are now fitted with stabilizer “fins”.  Normally retracted inside the hull like a bird’s wings, these stabilizers can be extended with the push of a button on the navigation bridge.  They work in a similar fashion to flaps on an airplane, allowing slight adjustments to ensure the smoothest ride.

Some ships are even fitted with two sets of stabilizer fins per side for extra stability.  The fins themselves can compensate for up to eighty percent of all rolling.  The early transatlantic liners were not fitted with stabilizers, and were subjected to horrific rolling, sometimes exceeding well over twenty degrees.  Not only was this uncomfortable for the passengers, it also put extra stresses on the hull.

The newest stabilizers can disengage and fold back into the hull even if crew members were to forget they were deployed: the simple act of engaging the thrusters necessary for docking results in the wings being folded back in automatically.

While the fins do have a slight impact on fuel consumption when deployed, keeping the guests and crew happy is the primary objective of every major line.

So the next time you encounter rough seas on your cruise, sleep easy with the knowledge that the Officers have deployed the stabilizers and eliminated over eighty percent of your possible discomfort.

 

30 Responses to Focus On: Stablization

  1. DBA says:

    I forget what channel it airs on, but there's a show called Big, Bigger, Biggest and they have a whole episode that addresses stabilization, fire proofing and many other factors of cruise travel. The Pacific (or a ship that looks near identical) was specifically mentioned as the first attempt in stabilization.
    Really cool show if you haven't seen it.

  2. DBA says:

    I forget what channel it airs on, but there's a show called Big, Bigger, Biggest and they have a whole episode that addresses stabilization, fire proofing and many other factors of cruise travel. The Pacific (or a ship that looks near identical) was specifically mentioned as the first attempt in stabilization.
    Really cool show if you haven't seen it.

  3. DBA says:

    I forget what channel it airs on, but there's a show called Big, Bigger, Biggest and they have a whole episode that addresses stabilization, fire proofing and many other factors of cruise travel. The Pacific (or a ship that looks near identical) was specifically mentioned as the first attempt in stabilization.
    Really cool show if you haven't seen it.

  4. DBA says:

    I forget what channel it airs on, but there's a show called Big, Bigger, Biggest and they have a whole episode that addresses stabilization, fire proofing and many other factors of cruise travel. The Pacific (or a ship that looks near identical) was specifically mentioned as the first attempt in stabilization.
    Really cool show if you haven't seen it.

  5. DBA says:

    I forget what channel it airs on, but there's a show called Big, Bigger, Biggest and they have a whole episode that addresses stabilization, fire proofing and many other factors of cruise travel. The Pacific (or a ship that looks near identical) was specifically mentioned as the first attempt in stabilization.
    Really cool show if you haven't seen it.

  6. DBA says:

    I forget what channel it airs on, but there's a show called Big, Bigger, Biggest and they have a whole episode that addresses stabilization, fire proofing and many other factors of cruise travel. The Pacific (or a ship that looks near identical) was specifically mentioned as the first attempt in stabilization.
    Really cool show if you haven't seen it.

  7. DBA says:

    I forget what channel it airs on, but there's a show called Big, Bigger, Biggest and they have a whole episode that addresses stabilization, fire proofing and many other factors of cruise travel. The Pacific (or a ship that looks near identical) was specifically mentioned as the first attempt in stabilization.
    Really cool show if you haven't seen it.

  8. DBA says:

    I forget what channel it airs on, but there's a show called Big, Bigger, Biggest and they have a whole episode that addresses stabilization, fire proofing and many other factors of cruise travel. The Pacific (or a ship that looks near identical) was specifically mentioned as the first attempt in stabilization.
    Really cool show if you haven't seen it.

  9. DBA says:

    I forget what channel it airs on, but there's a show called Big, Bigger, Biggest and they have a whole episode that addresses stabilization, fire proofing and many other factors of cruise travel. The Pacific (or a ship that looks near identical) was specifically mentioned as the first attempt in stabilization.
    Really cool show if you haven't seen it.

  10. DBA says:

    I forget what channel it airs on, but there's a show called Big, Bigger, Biggest and they have a whole episode that addresses stabilization, fire proofing and many other factors of cruise travel. The Pacific (or a ship that looks near identical) was specifically mentioned as the first attempt in stabilization.
    Really cool show if you haven't seen it.

  11. John says:

    You mentioned in an earlier post from the Spirit that you enjoy a bit of "action" when at sea. So do I. Perhaps some cruises could be designated "stabilizer free" so that folks like us could enjoy sailing as it was meant to be. 🙂

  12. John says:

    You mentioned in an earlier post from the Spirit that you enjoy a bit of "action" when at sea. So do I. Perhaps some cruises could be designated "stabilizer free" so that folks like us could enjoy sailing as it was meant to be. 🙂

  13. John says:

    You mentioned in an earlier post from the Spirit that you enjoy a bit of "action" when at sea. So do I. Perhaps some cruises could be designated "stabilizer free" so that folks like us could enjoy sailing as it was meant to be. 🙂

  14. John says:

    You mentioned in an earlier post from the Spirit that you enjoy a bit of "action" when at sea. So do I. Perhaps some cruises could be designated "stabilizer free" so that folks like us could enjoy sailing as it was meant to be. 🙂

  15. John says:

    You mentioned in an earlier post from the Spirit that you enjoy a bit of "action" when at sea. So do I. Perhaps some cruises could be designated "stabilizer free" so that folks like us could enjoy sailing as it was meant to be. 🙂

  16. John says:

    You mentioned in an earlier post from the Spirit that you enjoy a bit of "action" when at sea. So do I. Perhaps some cruises could be designated "stabilizer free" so that folks like us could enjoy sailing as it was meant to be. 🙂

  17. John says:

    You mentioned in an earlier post from the Spirit that you enjoy a bit of "action" when at sea. So do I. Perhaps some cruises could be designated "stabilizer free" so that folks like us could enjoy sailing as it was meant to be. 🙂

  18. John says:

    You mentioned in an earlier post from the Spirit that you enjoy a bit of "action" when at sea. So do I. Perhaps some cruises could be designated "stabilizer free" so that folks like us could enjoy sailing as it was meant to be. 🙂

  19. John says:

    You mentioned in an earlier post from the Spirit that you enjoy a bit of "action" when at sea. So do I. Perhaps some cruises could be designated "stabilizer free" so that folks like us could enjoy sailing as it was meant to be. 🙂

  20. John says:

    You mentioned in an earlier post from the Spirit that you enjoy a bit of "action" when at sea. So do I. Perhaps some cruises could be designated "stabilizer free" so that folks like us could enjoy sailing as it was meant to be. 🙂

  21. Aaron Saunders says:

    I do like your idea – but I think we might be the only two people who would want that!

  22. Aaron Saunders says:

    I do like your idea – but I think we might be the only two people who would want that!

  23. Aaron Saunders says:

    I do like your idea – but I think we might be the only two people who would want that!

  24. Aaron Saunders says:

    I do like your idea – but I think we might be the only two people who would want that!

  25. Aaron Saunders says:

    I do like your idea – but I think we might be the only two people who would want that!

  26. Aaron Saunders says:

    I do like your idea – but I think we might be the only two people who would want that!

  27. Aaron Saunders says:

    I do like your idea – but I think we might be the only two people who would want that!

  28. Aaron Saunders says:

    I do like your idea – but I think we might be the only two people who would want that!

  29. Aaron Saunders says:

    I do like your idea – but I think we might be the only two people who would want that!

  30. Aaron Saunders says:

    I do like your idea – but I think we might be the only two people who would want that!

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