Tag Archive: work

I’ve been using the term “College is not an environment I thrive in” quite a bit recently.

It’s true, even though all we are doing is talking about the job, OK in some deep detail, but still, it’s ALL job. It’s not an environment I like or feel comfortable in, I’ve struggled through every day of academic life I ever found myself placed in.

I’m still surprised I have a Class 2 Certificate of Competency, with full Chief Exemptions. I am not the worlds most intelligent guy. I struggle with 95% of the things I do. It physically hurts for me to write for more than 25 minutes. I have the ability to recall injection pressures of fuel injectors I set up 10 years, but ask me to draw the circuit diagram of an AVR I practised half an hour ago? Then its a whole new kettle of fish.

However in all honesty, I am in the happiest place work-wise, I have been for years. I’m at the rank I’ve wanted for just over 12 years now, I’m working on engines people don’t believe the size of, which I strangely like. The size of the job still impresses me, the fact I physically climb into engines for a living.  


(AJ in a cylinder of main engine from Maersk Chennai)


As much as I do want my Chiefs Ticket, it wouldn’t be the end of the world for me if I didn’t get it. Being Chief involves mainly paperwork, getting dangerously stressed, and not that much dirty hands. I enjoy being hands on, I enjoy being the go to man onboard for issues, I enjoy being a bit of a dick downstairs and being in charge. I am a Second Engineer and there is no getting away from that, I’m just not sure if being a Chief is for me at present.


I think being a Second with A Chief Engineer ticket is good, and really how it should be, however, if I fail to achieve it this time I’m not going to be that gutted. It’s not like failing my 2nds, I’m already a 2nd, I’m already where I want to be.


To be honest also, since going 2nd a lot of stuff has ironed it self out mentally for me. I am in a better place in my head, still having wobbles, but this a) just one of those things, b) is also partly due to being at college I suspect. Which brings us back to why it’s an environment I don’t thrive in.


I’m better when I’m doing, rather than when I’m being told. I’m quite an animated person at work, I swear, take the piss, liable to throw something, usually a shifter when I’m annoyed, tell people in no uncertain terms when I’m right and they are wrong. I am comfortable with how I work and how things work onboard. I am confident in my work, and confident in making sure other’s work, and woe betide the engineer who regularly falls below my slackest efforts.


On board, I’m “The Man”. I’m the engine room character, I’m the source of tales of nights ashore and drinking onboard. I can relied upon to belittle someone humorously, find suitable jobs for suitably abled people. I have control over a close knit bunch of lads, I enjoy it and relish it. I almost look forward to it every day. 


But back at college, I’m back to being a nobody. Back to trying to make my voice heard amongst many others. Back to being just another face that ultimately doesn’t really matter. I suddenly have mental blocks on how to describe kit from the ship I’ve just come off of. I suddenly find myself unable to recall even basic knowledge that I know in myself I intuitively know.


It’s a bind to say the least, and it depresses me. Greatly. I’m good at my job, I’m not going to lie. It sounds arrogant, but I am, and I believe you need a certain amount of arrogance in this job to have the confidence in your actions, as an engineer, to know that what you are going to do is the right actions.


And college does not encourage that. I feel like a fish out of water there. I try my best, I think I’m doing enough work, without overwhelming myself, which is very easy to do.


I’d like my Chiefs, really I would, but its not the end of the world, thats for sure.




So then.

I have started my new job with my new company.

I’ll be honest it was a bit of a leap of faith for me, It’s been 7 nearly 8 years since I last worked on anything similar to these sort of ships, & even then it was as a cadet. These ships run differently from what I’ve really ever been used to in the past.

I don’t get nervous anymore joining a new ship like I used to, I used to though, I wasn’t good with meeting a bunch of strangers who had already been in their own little clique for quite sometime.

Now though, after cruiseships & being a transient within my last company I have got over this.

So joining this new ship wasn’t a “social nightmare” that it used to be.

The first impression of the ship was….well the actual physical size of ships doesn’t amaze me much these days, but it’s the individual things on the ship, the size of those things that amaze me.

Within 6 hours of being on the ship I had crawled round the Main Engine crankcase, which I was able to stand upright in the sump my head not even level with the centre of the main shaft & changed a fuel injector that was the size of my lower leg, but weighed twice as much.

Everything about the main engine on here is BIG. & I mean BIG. 8 Cylinder 96 cm Bore Monstrosity of an internal combustion 2 stroke engine.

The engineroom it self is massive as well, there are 4 generators spread over three rooms, these are my main responsibility & we have quite a bit of work coming up on these, some 1500, 3000 & 24000 hr overhauls on them, luckily the 24k one is such big enough that a team from shoreside is coming inboard to assist.

The heat is intense – its been a while since I experienced the working blast furnace of an engineroom in the the tropics, & also I’m now very aware of how unfit I am. Running round a large multi deck engineroom, in humid hot conditions sure makes me appreciate just how unhealthy I’ve been for the last 7/8 years.

So you never know besides being a good thing career wise, this should be good for me physically as well.

I have really enjoyed the 1st couple of days, & feel that I am being a proper engineer again. I am a “little” nervous about the upcoming overhauls but I do have an experienced Engineer Cadet with me who seems to be quite good to assist who has done some of the work before, so that should help me along the way!

The 2nd engineer is keen to help me learn the system well & the computer program’s that will help me in becoming a 2nd Engineer with the New Company. So that’s jolly useful. No one yet has also said “Why the hell did you join this company?” which is usually one of the first things people say when I join a new company. So this already has made life a bit easier.

Now the next challenge is to not break anything. But unless you’ve broken it how can you fix it?

But overall I am enjoying the new job & all the challenges it’s present to date, I am really excited about being the Chief Crankcase diver when we pull a piston out of the main engine in a week or so time. This will be the 1st time that I will have been responsible for doing this.

The weathers been great, the anti-piracy measures are in place, & we are heading to India! We shall be there tomorrow. I hope to find a half an hour at some point for a bronze every now & then. However my cabin is a nice cooling break from the pit so we shall see!


Cheers & Ta


The Call

I just got the call

From tomorrow I will be on 24 hour notice call out to join the ship.

The bags that have been up in the loft for the last 2 months are down and packed.

I’ve already got a job list in my head about what needs to be done on board, I have mentally left already.

I know for a fact I am several shades of annoying right now, I’m am remarkably more cheerful than I have been for the last week. But I couldn’t care less, because besides the fact I don’t really have anything keeping me home, I love going to sea.

I am going back to sea, going back to do the one thing I know that I can do and have some form of control over.

I can feel my pulse has increased, and I’ve a bounce in my step, I’m going back to the slightly dirtier world where I belong.

I can’t adequately explain how much getting back out there means to me at the moment. I’ve been laid up sick for over 2 months, and this is the day I’ve been looking forward to for the last 8 weeks 5 days.

I’ve a 7 week trip this time (my choosing) but it’s to get me on a different shift. I will be thoroughly fed up and tired by the end of it, and still have secretly enjoyed it. Though I’d never tell any of the crew.

I’m going back to work, and I bloody love the feeling!


Right then the main part of the ship – THE ENGINE ROOM

The engine room is the heart of any ship. From here everything that the ship requires to move, operate and work is either found here or made here.

All electricity is made here, the propulsion is operated and rotated, the steering gear is located, all fresh water is pumped, the storage fridge compressors are, and everything that controls and cools and monitors all this appointment.

I will split the blog over 2 blogs – the 1st (this one) will concern it self with the forward portion of the engine room. Obviously each engine room is different so I will describe this – my current one.

Just remember also as an engineer onboard a ship it is our responsibility to fix all of what you see and more!! It’s very rare that we have to get some one from ashore to come onboard and fix stuff for us.

Anyway I hope you enjoy!

The first part of the engine-room I will introduce is the Engine Control Room

From here the majority of the systems can be monitored and operated, from starting and stopping engines to moving ballast around to aid stability, to pumping cargo and transferring fuel around the vessel.

This ship is diesel electric.With this form of propulsion the engines are not connected to the propellor, instead we have 4 diesel generators that create electricity this is then used to power large electric motors that drive the ships propellor (via a gearbox). Obviously the same electricity is used for hotel supply.

These engines are 16 Piston V blocked Caterpillar engines we have 4 of them and can supply approximately 2.5MW of power each or 41666, 60W lightbulbs, at 60HZ frequency 690V. This then goes through various transformers for Hotel Supply (220V) industrial Supply (pumps/motors/AC plants/Fridges) (440V) and propulsion / deck cargo (690V).

Here is a picture of the top of all the engines

The noise that these engines produce is immense – the next photo is a screen shot of a decibel meter – this is with one engine running – when all 4 are running it truly is deafening and can be well in excess 120 dB

These 2 very large electric motors (approximately 6 foot tall not including the mountings) are what drive the bow thrusters. The bow thrusters are what assists the ship to move sideways and also keep in position when we are at the oil rigs. These are not on when we are steaming to anywhere and are only on during manoeuvring (i.e. coming alongside or at the rig).

They are the main pieces of machinery in the forward engine room compartments.

Other smaller pieces of machinery are the Air compressors, compressed air is used to start the engines, this is either by direct release into the cylinders to start the initial rotation or by an air start motor on the flywheel, these engines use the air start motor, this is the same principle as a starting motor on a car engine it’s just air powered not electric powered.

We also treat all sewage before it gets discharged to ensure that it causes no harm to the environment, this is the sewage plant

There are also chilled water compressors which creates chilled water for the AC systems.

Also fridge compressors for the cooks large fridges and freezers, along with all the cooling pumps for the machinery the ships fire pump is in the machinery spaces.

If there is a fire onboard we are all trained firefighters and can fight majority of fires.

All fuel that we burn in the engines is purified first, we used Gas Oil onboard all ships in my company which is a relatively clean fuel – it’s the same diesel used in cars but with slightly different antifreeze properties. It is cleaned centrifugally (spun very fast) and the impurities are spun to the outside and discharged to the sludge tank. This purified fuel then goes to the service tank before going to the engines.

This is it for the forward engine compartments, next blog I shall Attempt the aft compartments which concern themselves with electrical distribution, cargo handling, ballasting and propulsion

Hope you found this informative and not boring!


Ta ra