It is a profession rich with Maritime history. The rigging of any marine structure is a complex network of lines, pulleys and fasteners which secure masts, sails and even other ships and structures for towing. Whenever there is something heavy to be moved onboard or dockside, a rigger is required to hoist and secure the load.
The name “Rigger” originates from our historical sailing days where sailors were employed based on their rope handling skills. Things have changed somewhat and more advanced equipment is available, but the method of fastening and using fulcrum to lift and secure cartage on a ship remains much the same. A modern day rigger can be responsible for safely lifting hundreds of thousands or millions of pounds of cargo or machinery into place using traditional methods and in spaces where heavy equipment cannot fit.
Rigging Companies hire specialists who have gone through apprenticeship training. Since rigging is almost never a one-person job, professional riggers must learn how to work as a team and cultivate a strong and trusting relationship with their co-workers. Given the dangerous nature of rigging and the risk of injury from falling debris it is important for workers to know how to work together effectively.
Rigging companies remain an essential part of marine operation. Frequently on a sea vessel things need to be moved or stored in tight spaces where equipment cannot maneuver. For shipping, every square inch of space is utilized and moving cargo into place involves crane rigging and qualified personnel to advise on the best method, depending on the size and weight of the cartage.
Refers to any rope system used to raise or lower fabric sails on a boat or freight. This can be equipment used on a small, recreational boat or on larger yachts and typically consists of three types: single braid, three strand and double braid. Shackle strength and breaking loads are carefully calculated to ensure that the chosen type of wire or rope will not break.
While all industrial freighters have chains that pull the anchor up from the bottom, there are other rigging devices that ensure the anchor is not lost in the event it becomes snagged on the ocean bottom. With increasing amounts of debris in harbors (old vessels and other heavy objects) retrieving a lost anchor can be costly. Trip lines with a buoy are also used to indicate the presence of an anchor line to other vessels to prevent entanglement.
Other types of anchor rigging can include Hurricane Rigging which is a style engineered to better moor the vessel to the ocean floor in the event of a large storm or hurricane. This type of rigging increases the anchor by branching off into two, three or more sections where additional anchor weight can be added and spread out over a greater distance in order to stabilize the vessel.
Cranes are commonly used to load equipment, vehicles and cargo onto larger commercial vessels. Securing each single piece of cargo or container requires a qualified rigger to select the right materials to method to safely lift and move the materials. Since dropping cargo can result in injury and damage to both the cargo and to the vessel, extra time is spent ensuring that everything that is lifted by a crane is secured properly.
While rigging marine rigging professionals do not require a College diploma to become certified, they do need many years of apprenticeship to learn the varied methods and safety protocols of rigging. It remains an important part of marine business operation and is a dynamic and interesting occupation.