What are marine fenders?

Marine fenders are a type of marine equipment that can be used to prevent boats, ships and marine vessels from colliding against each other or docks. They are used on a permanent basis in piers, wharves, ports & harbors and other marine vessel entrance and exit points to prevent damage and deformation to the hull of the vessel as well as to other berthing structures such as jetty, quay wall, and other vessel. Fenders are usually manufactured using rubber, plastic or foam elastomer. They are designed in such a way that the collision prevention process is almost faultless. Fenders are tied to the hull or vessel head and to avoid any accidental collision or damage.

Types of marine fenders

Based on ship-to-ship (STS) operations

There are two types of fenders that can be used for bunkering operations between two ships or boats.

  • Pneumatic fenders: Pneumatic fenders provide protection in ship-to-ship berthing scenarios. They are ideal for offshore ship-to-ship transfers and for permanent and semi-permanent port applications.
  • Foam elastomer fenders: They are light weight and three times better than conventional fenders. They have excellent energy absorption capacity and dissipate stress evenly.

Based on ship-to-quay (STQ) operations

Fenders that are used in ship-to-quay operations help in preventing damage to the berthing structure. STQ types of marine fenders include:

  • Cylindrical fenders: They are versatile fenders ideal for berths serving large and small vessels. Their applications involve in Bulk cargo berths, General cargo quays, Pontoons, and Tugboats & Workboat berths.
  • Cell fenders: They are the most preferred fenders for large-vessels. They can be installed in single, dual, or multiple combinations to enhance energy absorption capacity.
  • Cone fenders: They are the latest generation of cone fenders and have high resistant to over-compression.
  • Arch fenders: These ‘V’ shaped fenders disperse stress evenly and are recommended for use in all types of port applications.
  • Other most commonly used rubber fenders include D-type fenders, W-type fenders and Square shape fenders.

How to choose right marine fenders?

Choosing right marine fenders for different applications involving marine vessels is essential to minimize any impact due to collision. Fenders type and size depends on the following factors:

  1. Vessel size: The larger the size of the marine vessel, the larger the fender required. Small boats/vessels have small contact area so a small cylindrical fender would work efficiently. For larger vessels, select super cone or super cell fenders.
  2. Weather condition: High tides, low tides, wind power; all these factors affect the type of fender selected by you. Elongated fenders or fenders with frontal frames are perfect for vessels when sea water gets rough or when it is too windy day.
  3. Port structures: There are three types of port terminals: dolphin, jetty, and terminals with quay walls. Use super cell fenders in dolphin terminals and cylindrical fenders for protecting vessels in jetty terminals. Vessels usually cannot berth in terminals with quay walls because of shallow water.

The number and size of fenders to be used for a port or semi-port operations are determined utilizing these three factors. Investment made in purchasing marine fenders help to save future expenses because of less damage or collision problems.