The Power Distributed on board a ship needs to be supplied efficiently throughout the ship. For this, the power distribution system of the ship is used.



A shipboard distribution system consists of different components for the distribution and safe operation of the system. They are:

  • Ship Generator consisting of prime mover and alternator
  • The main switchboard is a metal enclosure taking power from the diesel generator and supplies it to different machinery.
  • Bus Bars act as a carrier and allow the transfer of load from one point to another. Circuit breakers that act as a switch and are in unsafe conditions can be tripped to avoid breakdowns and accidents. Fuses as a safety device for machinery.
  • Transformers to step up or step down the voltage. When supply is to be given to the lighting system a step-down transformer is used in the distribution system.
  • In a power distribution system, the voltage at which the system works is usually 440v.
  • There are some large installations where the voltage is as high as 6600v.
  • Power is supplied through circuit breakers to large auxiliary machinery at high voltage.
  • For smaller supply fuse and miniature circuit breakers are used.
  • The distribution system is three wires and can be neutrally insulated or earthed.
  • The insulated system is preferred as compared to the earthed system because during an earth fault essential machinery such as steering gear can be lost.


power distribution system

The main switchboard is considered the distribution hub of the ship’s electrical system taking power from the power generator and distributing it to the power consumer spread all over the ship. It provides a power supply to all important ships’ machinery with 440V.


A part of the main switchboard is provided with a 220V supply via a step-down transformer. It includes bridge equipment, navigation lights, radio communication equipment, etc. The power from the auxiliary switchboard is used to charge the battery which is used for emergency lights.

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