transcribed from "The World The Air The Future" - Sir
Dennison Burney 1929
Note: Some recent photos uncovered
from the AHT collection have been added to highlight plans which
were being undertaken for the docking of airships, and how close
these plans were progressing in mooring techniques.
and Docking Raft advancements
In the same way as a liner
requires tugs and capstans to manreuvre her into a dock, so does
an airsh1p, which presents as great an area to the wind as a liner,
want some mechanical equivalent. During our investigations into
this problem, many suggestions were made, but each proposal was
tested by this question: Can the scheme proposed main- tain a
ship in safety, if at any stage of the operation of taking the
ship from the mast and placing her in the shed, a 40-45 m.p.h.
wind shifts 5° degrees in 10 seconds?
So far, the proposal I shall
now describe is the only one that has passed this test. The general
idea under- lying it is simple. The ship is moored at a mooring
mast in the usual way, and as soon as this has been done, a number
of claws are mechanically operated and clasp the ship firmly about
the centre line. When the ship is securely held in these claws,
the whole structure embracing the mast, claws, and ship, is run
into the shed on rails.
details have to be elaborated. The mast must be high to receive
the ship, and low to enter the shed. Therefore it is made telescopic.
The manreuvre of clasping the ship by the claws must be carried
out when the ship is lying head to wind. Therefore the claws are
mounted on a raft which is capable of rotation ; and because the
ship is held by the mast, it follows that the mast must be attached
to the raft.
The next question for consideration
is, at what part of the ship should the claws be attached? Again,
it is obvious that they must be attached at that part of the ship
that will prevent rolling in the event of a side gust. Therefore
the claws are attached to strong points along the horizontal of
The next problem to be considered
is in connection with the claws. How are they to be operated?
If they are high enough to reach to the centre line of the ship,
and if they are mounted on a raft which is rotated so as to lie
in the same fore and aft line of the ship, it is obvious that,
unless precautions are taken, the claws will poke a hole in the
Therefore the claws are made
to rotate about the horizontal axis and lie down flat on the ground,
and they only become vertical when the ship is so restrained that
she cannot swing into the claws when upright. Not only is this
done, but a further precaution is taken. The raft itself carrying
the claws is made to open like a pair of scissors, so that the
ship can come to the mast between the arms of the raft, and be
restrained in that position by ropes running from the claws to
the ship is securely clasped in the claws, she can be treated
in one of two ways. Either she can be left in the claws in the
open, the raft being rotated so as always to keep the ship head
to the wind, or the raft can be rotated until the ship is in line
with the shed, and then the ship, raft, mast and claws, can be
run as a unit in to the shed. Futhermore, since the claws can
be finally balanced prior to emergence from the shed with a minimum
employment of personnel. To take the vessel out of the shed will,
therefore, require but few men, as nothing has to be done beyond
opening the doors and operating the levers controlling the transporting
mechanism of the raft.
It will be realised, of course,
t hat although we have a solution in the mooring and docking raft
for putting the ship in into a shed, we are still faced, in the
initial stages of the operation, with havin to attach the vessel
to the mooring point under those conditions already discribed,
in which the vessel has little or no dynamic control.
The provision of tail engines
enabling rapid longitudinal control to be provided in the place
of the ordinary elevator control, which cannot, of course, function
under static conditions should, however render the operation of
picking up the the mooring point much easier than under existing
The weight of the necessary
fittings carried in the ship to which the claws are attached,
will amount to three tons or so, and will involve the increase
in the size of the ship to obtain the same performance as that
of a vessel not so fitted.
series of photos have been uncovered showing models of the
planned docking of an airship
1. Ship is linked to mobile mast and pully system attached
2. Ship is winched in to aligment with shed
3. Ship is fully aligned with shed (shown in white on model)
4. Close-up of commection to the ships hull.
5. Connection device (retracted). It unknown whether this
was a connection from the ship or on the guideway