• Published a book you want to tell us about? Uploaded a YouTube video you want to share?

    Normally you'll need 100 posts to self-promote, but with an upgraded membership you can do so with your first post.

    Find out more here: Become a Supporting Member

Proper name for doors within a ship?

Brian G Turner

Fantasist & Futurist
Staff member
Supporter
Joined
Nov 23, 2002
Messages
22,836
Location
Highlands
We've all seen them in films with ships in - doors below deck with a wheel on them to ensure they close water-tight.

However, I'm struggling a little with the terminology - is "hatch" the right word, rather than door?

I ran a search and apparently the wheel might be called a "hand wheel" and to close a door with one is to "dog the hatch".

However, I remain unclear on the proper terminology - do ships have doors or hatches below deck? It's one of those basic details that I don't seem to have picked up from my reading. :)
 

HareBrain

Smeerp of Wonder
Staff member
Supporter
Joined
Oct 13, 2008
Messages
10,419
Location
West Sussex, UK
Aren't they called "bulkhead doors"? (I assume you wouldn't put a wheel on it if it wasn't for a bulkhead.)
 

The Judge

Truth. Order. Moderation.
Staff member
Joined
Nov 10, 2008
Messages
10,362
Location
nearly the New Forest
I was thinking bulkhead, but checking I see that's actually the internal wall, but "bulkhead door" sounds fine to me. A hatch is the thing opening onto the deck, I think.


Grr. Foxbat beat me to it. Must type faster...
 

GCJ

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 17, 2017
Messages
64
I worked offshore for a time but not too long, and I'm sure those types of doors on semi-submersibles and jack-ups were called 'bulkhead doors'.
 

GCJ

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 17, 2017
Messages
64
Just remembered: I used "bulkhead doors" in my book, so I hope it's right!
If it helps you descriptively in your work, the doors were heavy. Often, I'd have to give them a decent shove with my shoulder to get them moving, but once they were moving they tended to swing freely until they hit the actual bulkhead. There's a fair bit of momentum in them, and I'd guess they'd weigh over 200Kg. They tended to be heavily painted on a regular basis by the Deck Hands, displaying a meatiness about the paint.

And, crucially, they sit around 8 to 10 inches above the level on the deck as a minimum (to cope with deck flooding) so one has to step through them carefully. I know this, because I've tripped through them ungracefully on several occasions.

They also don't bang shut, as they have rubber seals around the inside for obvious reasons.
 

goldhawk

aurea plectro
Joined
Nov 18, 2008
Messages
706
FYI, bulkheads are a structural part of the ship; they separated compartments. That's why their doors can be dogged shut. This prevents water in one compartment from flooding others.
 

pyan

Great Old One
Staff member
Supporter
Joined
Jul 29, 2005
Messages
8,829
Location
47°9′s 126°43′w
Surely they're "doors ". "Open the bulkhead hatches, Hal" just doesn't sound right...
 

Ursa major

Bearly Believable
Staff member
Supporter
Joined
Aug 7, 2007
Messages
21,006
Location
England
I'd suggest that someone might have just laid an egg, but the timing is wrong (and comedy is all about timing)....
 

Theophania Elliott

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 7, 2016
Messages
146
Location
Birmingham, UK
If you are a US Navy Sea Cadet, then it's a 'door' if it's in a bulkhead, and it's a 'hatch' if it's in a deck. Nautical Terms

Presumably the same applies to the US Navy.

The Canadian Navy does the same: Words or terminology used in the Canadian Navy - doors between compartments on the same deck, hatches between compartments on different decks.

And these guys make them: Naval Hatches
 

TheDustyZebra

Aspiring notaphilist
Staff member
Supporter
Joined
Nov 26, 2009
Messages
8,832
Location
Colorado
My husband was in the Coast Guard, so I figured they had some technical term he might remember from doing accident investigations. He says "water-tight doors". o_O :lol:
 

Foxbat

None The Wiser
Supporter
Joined
Jul 24, 2003
Messages
7,108
Location
Scotland
Considering the bulkhead is actually the partition wall of a ship calling them bulkhead doors seems a bit odd. In your own home, do you say 'close the wall door'?
 

TheDustyZebra

Aspiring notaphilist
Staff member
Supporter
Joined
Nov 26, 2009
Messages
8,832
Location
Colorado
Considering the bulkhead is actually the partition wall of a ship calling them bulkhead doors seems a bit odd. In your own home, do you say 'close the wall door'?
No, but "close the door" doesn't have much drama about it, in a ship. :p
 

Foxbat

None The Wiser
Supporter
Joined
Jul 24, 2003
Messages
7,108
Location
Scotland
No, but "close the door" doesn't have much drama about it, in a ship. :p
Very true and probably the reason why 'bulkhead doors' is used in movies.

Same thing with 'over and out' on the radio. No trained operator actually says that. You're either over (meaning your waiting for a reply) or out (end of transmission). :)
 

HareBrain

Smeerp of Wonder
Staff member
Supporter
Joined
Oct 13, 2008
Messages
10,419
Location
West Sussex, UK
Considering the bulkhead is actually the partition wall of a ship calling them bulkhead doors seems a bit odd. In your own home, do you say 'close the wall door'?
Not every wall in a ship is a bulkhead (separating a water-tight compartment), so it would make sense (to me) to distinguish them, like fire doors in a building.

(Of course someone would probably say in real life "close that door" rather than "close that bulkhead door". But they might say "close all bulkhead doors" to avoid having to shut the door to the wardroom.)
 
Top