Bulkhead (partition)

Bulkhead (partition)

A bulkhead is an upright wall within the hull of a ship. Other kinds of partition elements within a ship are decks and deckheads.


The word "bulki" meant "cargo" in Old Norse. The Song Dynasty Chinese author Zhu Yu wrote of Chinese ships with watertight bulkhead compartments in his book "Pingzhou Table Talks" of 1119 AD. A Chinese trade ship dated to 1277 AD was found off the southern coast of China in 1973, and had 12 bulkhead compartment rooms in its hull.

Sometime in the 15th century sailors and builders in Europe realized that walls within a vessel would prevent cargo from shifting during passage. In shipbuilding, any vertical panel was called a "head". So walls installed abeam (side-to-side) in a vessel's hull were called "bulkheads." Now, the term bulkhead applies to every vertical panel aboard a ship, except for the hull itself.


Bulkheads in a ship serve several purposes:

*increase the structural rigidity of the vessel,
*divide functional areas into rooms and
*create watertight compartments that can contain water in the case of a hull breach or other leak.

Some bulkheads and decks are fire-resistance rated to achieve compartmentalisation, a passive fire protection measure.

Requirements of bulkheads


Openings in fire-resistance rated bulkheads and decks must be firestopped to restore the fire-resistance ratings that would otherwise be compromised, if the openings were left unsealed. The Authority Having Jurisdiction for such measures varies depending upon the flag of the ship. Merchant vessels are typically subject to the regulations and inspections of the Coast Guards of the flag country. Combat ships are subject to the regulations set out by the navy of the country that owns the ship.

Prevention of damage from EMI and EMP

Bulkheads and decks of warships may be fully grounded (electrically) as a countermeasure against damage from EMI and EMP due to nuclear or electromagnetic bomb detonations near the ship, which could severely damage the vital electronic systems on a ship.

In the case of firestops, cable jacketing is usually removed within the seal and firestop rubber modules are internally fitted with copper shields, which contact the cables' armour in order to ground the seal. There are also conductive fill materials in use for that purpose, which must be in direct contact with cable armour to ensure full grounding of the bulkheads and decks.

Other uses of the term

The term was later applied to other vehicles, such as railroad cars, hopper cars trams, automobiles, aircraft or spacecraft, as well as to containers, intermediate bulk containers and fuel tanks. In some of these cases bulkheads are airtight to prevent air leakage or the spread of a fire. The term may also be used for the "end walls" of bulkhead flatcars.

Mechanically, a partition or panel through which connectors pass, or a connector designed to pass through a partition.

ee also

*Compartmentalization (fire protection)
*fire protection
*passive fire protection
*rear pressure bulkhead
*structural steel

External links

* [http://www.seatguru.com/articles/bulkheads.php Bulkheads in planes explained]
* [http://www.britannica.com/eb/topic-84303/bulkhead Brittanica definition]
* [http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bulkhead Merriam-Webster definition]
* [http://www.wipo.int/pctdb/en/wo.jsp?wo=2004033275 WIPO Bulkhead for motor vehicle]
* [http://www.yourdictionary.com/bulkhead "Your Dictionary" definition]
* [http://www.forces.gc.ca/admmat/dgmpd/jss/docs/Acronyms_Definitions_PD_SOW_12_May_06.pdf Canadian Armed Forces Glossary, see Fire Zone, page 5 of 14]
* [http://exchange.dnv.com/taridocs/TA-CERT/36%5C04543736.htm Det Norske Veritas Type Approval for a fire damper inside and A60 bulkhead]
* [http://www.freepatentsonline.com/6510807.html Subject-related patent by Free Patents Online]
* [http://www.martrans.org:8093/symposium/papers/Track%20A/A11%20devanney.pdf An example treatise on the use of A60 bulkheads onboard tankers] .

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Bulkhead — may refer to:* Bulkhead (barrier), a form of coastal management akin to a seawall * Bulkhead (partition): a wall within the hull of a ship, vehicle, or container * Bulkhead flatcars: a type of rolling stock designed with sturdy end walls *… …   Wikipedia

  • Bulkhead — Bulk head , n. [See {Bulk} part of a building.] 1. (Naut.) A partition in a vessel, to separate apartments on the same deck. [1913 Webster] 2. A structure of wood or stone, to resist the pressure of earth or water; a partition wall or structure,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • bulkhead — ► NOUN ▪ a barrier between separate compartments inside a ship, aircraft, etc. ORIGIN from Old Norse, partition + HEAD(Cf. ↑headless) …   English terms dictionary

  • bulkhead — [1] A structural partition that separates compartments. This is generally a metal wall that extends from one side of a vehicle to the other. In the engine compartment, you would find a radiator bulkhead near the front and a firewall near the back …   Dictionary of automotive terms

  • bulkhead — /ˈbʌlkhɛd / (say bulkhed) noun 1. a. Nautical one of the upright partitions dividing a ship into compartments. b. a similar partition in an aircraft, vehicle, etc. c. a similar partition in a storage building on land. 2. a partition built to… …   Australian English dictionary

  • bulkhead — [[t]bʌ̱lkhed[/t]] bulkheads N COUNT A bulkhead is a wall which divides the inside of a ship or aeroplane into separate sections. [TECHNICAL] Syn: partition …   English dictionary

  • bulkhead — noun Etymology: bulk (structure projecting from a building) + head Date: 15th century 1. an upright partition separating compartments 2. a structure or partition to resist pressure or to shut off water, fire, or gas 3. a retaining wall along a… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • bulkhead — bulkheaded, adj. /bulk hed /, n. 1. Naut. any of various wall like constructions inside a vessel, as for forming watertight compartments, subdividing space, or strengthening the structure. 2. Aeron. a transverse partition or reinforcing frame in… …   Universalium

  • bulkhead — noun a) A vertical partition dividing the hull into separate compartments; often made watertight to prevent excessive flooding if the ships hull is breached …   Wiktionary

  • bulkhead — Synonyms and related words: French door, anchorage, anchorage ground, arch dam, archway, back door, backstop, bamboo curtain, bank, bar, barrage, barrier, barway, basin, bear trap dam, beaver dam, berth, boom, brattice, breakwater, breastwork,… …   Moby Thesaurus

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