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Uses of Water on a Ship or Marine Vessel & its Types

Updated: Mar 14, 2023

Water is an essential resource for life, and this is no different on a ship or marine vessel. Water is used for countless tasks onboard, and we can’t stress enough how valuable a resource it is, especially on marine vehicles.

Water on a Marine Vessel is used for various purposes such as drinking, cooking, cleaning, and other mechanical and technical processes. However, not all water is equal. The type and source of the water used for these tasks is also different such as portable water, seawater, drinking water, and distilled water for different applications.

Commercial Water Treatment plants play an important role on a marine ship. Understanding the types and uses of water on a ship is crucial for the efficient and safe operation of the vessel, as well as the health and well-being of the crew.

marine ship in water with water treatment plant on it

In this post, we will dig deep into the usage of water on a ship for different activities and the type of water used for each activity.

9 Main Uses of Water Onboard Ship


Water on ships is used for the crew and passengers to drink, and it must be clean and safe for consumption. The human body needs water to function correctly, and sailors must consume enough freshwater to stay hydrated.

Hand washing:

On most vessels, hand washing is done using potable water to help the people on board maintain good hygiene.


Showering is one of the activities that consume a significant amount of potable water on a vessel.

Toilet flushing:

Individuals on board a marine vessel should be mindful while flushing toilets, as each flush, use a lot of potable water.


From boiling and steaming vegetables, washing fruits, and making beverages like tea and coffee, potable water has many uses in the kitchen.


Common laundry tasks on a ship that requires potable water include washing, rising, and ironing apparel, sheets, and towels.

Machinery cooling:

Distilled water is used for cooling various systems onboard, such as engines, boilers, and other machinery. Without adequate cooling, the ship's engines can overheat and fail, which can be dangerous and cause delays.

Floor washing:

Sea water is primarily used for utilities that don’t require fresh water, such as floor washing.


The abundant seawater is also used in case of emergencies like fighting a fire.

4 Primary Types of Water Used on a Marine Vessel

There are four primary types of water used on a ship, and they’re used in varying amounts. These include:

Drinking water:

Drinking water on ships makes up approximately 1% of the total water usage. Managing water usage efficiently onboard a ship is essential to ensure an adequate fresh water supply and prevent any wastage.

The majority of marine vessels have a freshwater system to give them an uninterrupted supply of water.

A marine water maker is one of the most effective and reliable sources of freshwater on marine vessels. It converts seawater into freshwater through a process known as reverse osmosis (RO), providing the vessel with a reliable and clean supply of water.

Potable water:

Potable water accounts for the majority of the usage of water in a marine vessel, close to 89%.

Distilled water:

This makes up roughly 5% of the water usage on board.

Sea water:

This makes up about 5% of all the water consumption on a marine vessel.


We hope you found our guide to water usage onboard a ship interesting and learned something new.

Advanced Watertek’s versatile Marine RO Water Maker meets the freshwater needs of marine vessels ranging from supply vessels to ocean liners and livestock sea transport.

Our team of experts designs and manufactures RO Water Makers and reverse osmosis marine desalination solutions in Dubai, UAE, that maximize the life of all components, lower maintenance needs, and are therefore very reliable in tough sea conditions.

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Photo by RANJITH AR:

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