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Dry dock vessels can sink and float

 

Image: U.S. Navy, YouTube

Right under the Coronado Bridge is California's largest floating drydock. This vessel, christened Pride of California, purposefully floods itself and sinks low enough so a ship can sail inside. The dry dock can then resurface, bringing the ship inside it out of the water for repairs. 

How can a vessel sink and float on command? What causes a vessel to float? Why do some objects sink and some float? 

Resources:

YouTube: USS Montgomery Enters Drydock

NGSS & Grade:

MS-PS1-2, PS1.A: Structure and Properties of Matter

Grade: 
6-8 MS
Discipline: 
Physical Science