10 Types of Valves Used in Ship Building and Maintenance

Maintenance on ship valvesFor a vessel to remain seaworthy, many individual components must work together in harmony. As one of the most critical components, valves are essential in controlling the flow of various liquids, gasses, and fluids throughout the vessel. They can even save lives, as pressure relief and safety valves help maintain the vessel’s secure and efficient operation by reducing the risk of catastrophic equipment failure.

Considering their vital function, regular inspection and maintenance of valves are critical to ensure optimal performance and extend their lifecycle. If a valve wears down and becomes compromised, it can lead to mission-critical failures that could endanger the crew and threaten the ship’s integrity.

Continue reading to discover more about the different types of valves, their roles in shipbuilding, and the different advantages and disadvantages offered by each.

What are the Different Types of Valves Used in Ship Building?

Around 10 types of valves are regularly used in shipbuilding, each with advantages and disadvantages:

  1. Globe Valves
  2. Ball Valves
  3. Gate Valves
  4. Check Valves
  5. Butterfly Valves
  6. Diaphragm Valve
  7. Needle Valves
  8. Pressure Relief Valves
  9. Control Valves
  10. Safety Valves

For shipbuilders, the types of valves and uses for ships depend on the application, with some better suited for the role than others. Let’s explore each of the types of valves and their applications for naval vessels.

Globe Valves

Primarily used for throttling and regulating the flow of fluid in pipelines. They feature a movable plug or disk that adjusts the flow rate. These types of valves are typically used in cooling water, fuel oil, and steam systems.


  • Good flow control and throttling capabilities
  • Suitable for high-pressure applications
  • Customizable to meet the needs of specific applications


  • High-pressure drop due to the flow path.
  • Larger in size and weight compared to other types of valves

Ball Valves

Designed to quickly control the on/off function of fluid flow with a minimal drop in pressure. They use a ball with a hole through its center that aligns with the pipeline and rotates to block when closed. Ball valves are usually used in pneumatic and hydraulic systems.


  • Result in a minimal drop in pressure
  • Fast and easy to use
  • Low maintenance required
  • Usable in high-pressure and high-temperature applications


  • Reduced throttling capabilities
  • Leaks may occur in high-temperature applications

Gate Valves

This type of valve utilizes a flat or wedge-shaped gate that moves in and out of the flow path and is often used to control the fluid flow in pipelines. Gate valves are often found in ballast, cargo, and fuel transfer systems.


  • Minimal pressure drop when opened fully
  • Has the capacity to handle viscous fluids and slurries
  • Suitable for high-pressure and high-temperature applications


  • Slow to use
  • Not compatible with throttling applications
  • Wear down quickly to the sliding action

Check Valves

Check valves allow fluid to move in one direction, preventing backflow. They use adjustable components, such as a lift, tilting disk, or swing, that fluid pushes open and automatically closes when the flow reverses. These valves are found in various ship-wide systems, including the bilge and seawater cooling systems.


  • Operates automatically without any external control
  • Prevents backflow to protect systems and equipment
  • Customizable to meet the needs of specific applications


  • Limited control capabilities
  • Potential for water hammer or pressure surges that may damage pipelines

Butterfly Valves

Used for throttling, regulating, and isolating fluid flow, butterfly valves feature a circular disk that rotates around an axis, enabling flow control by changing the disk’s angle. These valves play a role in seawater cooling, ballast, and ventilation systems.


  • Feature a compact and lightweight design
  • Result in a low-pressure drop when used
  • Quick and easy to operate


  • Reduced sealing capacity, mainly when used in high-pressure applications
  • Potential for erosion or cavitation to occur in throttling applications

Diaphragm Valves

Designed to precisely control and regulate fluid flow, these valves often play a role in corrosive and sanitary applications. These types of valves use an adjustable diaphragm that moves up and down to control the flow rate.


  • Excellent at sealing and flow control
  • Usable for handling viscous fluids, slurries, and corrosive substances
  • Low maintenance


  • Limited temperature and pressure capabilities
  • Not usable in high-pressure applications

Needle Valves

Used for precise flow control and regulation, especially in low-flow applications. They feature a long, tapered needle that can be adjusted to vary the flow rate. Needle valves are typically used in instrumentation and control systems on ships.


  • Excellent flow regulation and control
  • Usable in high-pressure applications
  • Reduced risk of leaks


  • Potential to clog
  • Not usable in high-flow applications

Pressure Relief Valves

Designed to protect equipment and systems by releasing built-up pressure when the application reaches a set threshold. At Dante Valve, our Danco pressure relief valves are manufactured to the highest standard.


  • Automatic pressure control and protection
  • Prevents damage to systems and equipment
  • Customizable pressure release settings


  • Limited capacity for control
  • Require regular inspection and maintenance to ensure functionality

Control Valves

Automatically regulates fluid flow based on input from control systems or sensors. They work to control the flow rate, pressure, and temperature of the fluid. They are used in propulsion control, temperature regulation, and pressure control systems where the exact adjustments of fluid flow are vital for operating a system safely.


  • Precise flow control and regulation
  • Can be integrated into different control systems
  • Adaptable to meet the needs of various systems


  • Requires regular maintenance to ensure optimal performance
  • Complex design

Safety Valves

Safety valves are also designed to protect equipment and systems from the dangers of overpressure by automatically releasing excess pressure when it reaches the set threshold. These valves are usually spring-loaded and open when the pressure forces open the valve. A common type of marine valve, safety valves are used in shipbuilding in pressurized tanks, compressed air systems, and boiler systems to prevent catastrophic equipment failure.


  • Provide automatic protection against overpressure
  • Works to prevent damage to equipment, systems, and crew
  • Customizable to meet the needs of specific applications


  • Requires frequent testing, maintenance, and inspection to ensure functionality
  • Mainly serve a safety function and offer limited control

Helping to Deliver Performance Under Pressure

At Dante Valve, we understand the importance of delivering the correct valve for the job. We manufacture Danco pressure relief valves to military specifications while also distributing Kunkle relief valves and TRAC-regulating, reducing, and temperature-regulating valves. So when you require a valve that will rise to meet the challenge of functioning under the most demanding conditions, we have you covered.

Contact our team to request a quote today!

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