Marine Engineer's

Archive for the ‘Safety onboard’ Category

What Is Saturday Routine On A Ship?

Just check out what is Saturday routine and why is it carried out in ship?


Life on a ship is little different from conventional life at land. Normally the weekends are meant for relaxation and enjoyment in a typical shore based office, but the same cannot be said to be totally true about ships. So when I mention the word “Saturday routine”, I do not refer to the fun and partying (which is also there on ships) but to a different planned maintenance routine about which we will find out now.

Definition of Saturday Routine

Saturday routine is a planned maintenance routine or schedule followed in the ship. In this routine, all the machinery and important control systems are maintained as per the routine chart .This is carried out for safe operation of the ship and this maintenance schedule will be inspected by the surveyor and by the port state control officers who visit the ships to carry out such inspection. If this planned maintenance schedule is found to have unaccounted for delays, or have not been carried out properly, the surveyor can even detain the ship in port.

We have already learnt about the types of repairs carried out on a ship and know that the planned maintenance system is necessary to keep the machinery in near-perfect working condition. The Saturday planned maintenance routine is a vital part of this maintenance schedule and the list below shows the various equipments that would normally be inspected and checked for proper functioning. The list also gives the duty officer in charge of that specific check or operation and whether it needs to be done every Saturday, every two weeks or monthly.

Please note that this is not a regulation or compulsion but a long followed practise, perhaps just to ensure that the weekend goes smoothly, these checks are carried out on a Saturday. Otherwise they can be done during any other day as well

Checks in Saturday Planned Maintenance Routine

1. Fire Detection System [Electrical officer] – (EVERY SATURDAY)

2. CO2 Bottles and System [Electrical officer] - (MONTHLY)

3. Air and Foam Equipment [Second Engineer] - (EVERY SATURDAY)

4. General Alarm System [Electrical officer] - (EVERY SATURDAY)

5. Emergency Batteries [ Electrical officer ] – (FORTNIGHTLY)

6. Funnel Flaps [Fourth Engineer] - (EVERY SATURDAY)

7. Emergency /Remote stops [Electrical officer & Second engineer] – (MONTHLY)

(M/E QCV, E/R Blower/R pump, Accommodation Blower)

8. Emergency Lighting [Electrical officer] - (FORTNIGHTLY)

9. Life Boat Engine [Third Engineer]- (EVERY SATURDAY)

10. Emergency Fire Pump [Fourth Engineer] - (EVERY SATURDAY)

11. Emergency Air Compressor [Fourth Engineer] - (EVERY SATURDAY)

12. Emergency Steering gear [Second Engineer] - (FORTNIGHTLY)

13. Emergency Bilge suction valve [Fourth Engineer] - (MONTHLY)

14. Normally valves which are not in use [Second Engineer] - (MONTHLY)

(Ship side valve, sewage plant, isolating valve)

15. Portable Electronic tools And Equipment [Electrical officer ] - (MONTHLY)

16. Main Engine Safety Devices [Electrical officer & Second engineer] - (MONTHLY)

17. Auxiliary Engines Safety [Electrical officer & Fourth engineer] - (MONTHLY)

18. Oily Water Separator & 15 ppm indicator [Electrical officer] - (EVERY SATURDAY)

19. Main Engine Manoeuvring. [Electrical officer & Second engineer] - (MONTHLY)

20. Cargo Gear all limit switches. [Electrical officer] - (MONTHLY)

21. Boiler Safety Valve [Electrical officer & Third engineer] - (MONTHLY)

22. Freezer room alarm, hospital room alarm, bilge alarm, incinerator room alarm and steering gear alarm [Electrical officer] - (MONTHLY)



Ship Flooding Emergency Procedures


Learn about the actions to be taken by various personnel and duties assigned to the ship staff in case of flooding situation


A ship floats on water and hence the danger of flooding is always there. The unwanted ingress of the sea water in large quantities can result from a variety of reasons such as damage to the hull in situations of fire, grounding or collision. It can also result from bursting of any pipeline carrying sea water. Whatever be the reasons for flooding, it is a dangerous situation and certain steps must be taken immediately in case of such an event. These immediate steps form a small part of the larger emergency action plans to be followed later, and are as follows.

  • Slow down/stop main engines and raise emergency alarm
  • Determine if any causalities suffered and render first aid, if necessary
  • Check for oil / hazardous substances pollution and possibility of one
  • Notify technical department, DESIGNATED PERSON and relevant authorities
  • Assess the immediate danger of sinking and capsizing


  1. Send out distress message
  2. Prepare to evacuate vessel


  1. Initiate damage control measures
  2. Ensure adequate stability
  3. Monitor situation

Command centre:

  1. Fix ship’s position and record all movements /events
  2. Compile communication reports and inform technical department and designated person on situation
  3. Monitor latest weather forecast and assess impact on present situation
  4. Exercise damage control to reduce danger to crew, vessels and cargo
  5. Consider jettison of cargo to save the vessel
  6. Consider ballast/deballast and transfer water/fuel to correct the stability of the vessel

Emergency team

  1. Conduct visual inspection of damage and report to command center
  2. Check for oil pollution and act accordingly
  3. Take all ballast, bilge and fuel tanks soundings
  4. Check stability criteria and stress for present and worst anticipated condition
  5. Effect damage control and ensure adequate stability
  6. Ensure cargo is intact and all water tight door and ventilators shut
  7. Take fuel tanks and engine room bilge soundings

Support team

  1. Provide First Aid
  2. Prepare lifeboats

Emergency bilge suction

In case of engine room flooding the engine room bilges will come up due to the sea water entering the engine room. If they are not pumped out, then there is a danger of black out condition.

The rising level of the bilges would first damage the shaft generator and if still no actions are taken the all the pumps in bottom platform will stop functioning. To avoid this situation the engine room watch keeper will need to pump out the bilges immediately and this is called EMERGENCY BILGE SUCTION.

A brief overview is given below for the suction procedure for the benefit of the readers.


  1. Connect the Emergency Bilge suction to the pumps having more capacity than any other sea water pumps like Main sea water pump or Ballast pumps
  2. The emergency bilge suction pump has no suction filters fitted before and after the valve
  3. Emergency bilge suction is used only at the time of engine room flooding
  4. The suction pipe below the valve is fitted above the tank top, not above the bilge well because during suction it have more chances of choking when the suction is above the bilge well due cotton waste and other unwanted materials.
  5. Open the spindle of the valve that is extended above the floor plate
  6. The drain out of the valve is done frequently and make sure that the wheel of the valve can be turned with free hand not with wheel spanner
  7. Normally the discharge of water from the engine room at the time of flooding directly leads to overboard not through oil water separator. Hence in such a situation inform to the port authorities
  8. Emergency bilge suction valve is a SDNR (Screw down non return valve ) it is painted in red colour


Safety and Common Sense around Shipboard Gasoline Storage Tanks

This article will give you information about accepted safe work practices near shipboard gasoline storage tanks and the precautions to be taken before working in these places.

Points to Remember for Fire Prevention aboard Ships

1. Flames or smoldering sources

Many shipboard fires continue to be caused by the careless disposal of lighted matches and cigarettes, even though prevention is easily made by the provision of ashtrays of an approved design and the proper attitude of the seaman. Ashtrays should be provided and used only in authorized areas. Smokers should ensure that matches are extinguished and that cigarettes ends properly stubbed out. Warning notices should be displayed where smoking is forbidden and same should obeyed.

2. Hot surfaces

What may be termed “Black Heat,” it is not generally realized that the heat from an ordinary electric light bulb can soon put the temperature above the safe ignition limit of some materials if that heat is not allowed to dissipate by normal convention currents. A fire may be prevented by considering where the oil would spray from any burst pipe lines and fitting deflector plates over steam pipe lines, flue gas exhaust pipe lines, and in boiler casings. General care must be taken in the maintenance of machinery such as pumps-glands etc., which could overheat if faulty.

3. Spark particles

These include funnel sparks, friction, and mechanical sparks from grinding, cutting, chipping or welding, electrical sparks from switches and faulty brush gear, or short-circuiting. Particular care should be taken in gaseous conditions where even an electric torch may be unsafe.

Gas-tight switches should have good gaskets, and flame arrestors should be kept in good condition. In the gas storage area we should use intrinsically safe equipment. This intrinsically safe equipment can be defined as an electrical circuit in which a spark or thermal effect (under normal operation or specified faults condition) is incapable of causing the ignition of a given explosive mixture.


4. Electrical fuses

Any wiring which is overloaded will become overheated, so correct fusing is important and wiring in places that have difficult access must be inspected (and always be on the lookout for unauthorized wiring).

5. Spontaneous combustion

Apart from the risk in the gaseous cargo, rope-store, oilskin, dirty linen, or life-jackets lockers are likely risk areas. Keep these well ventilated to prevent heat build-up. Contaminations with natural oil or rotting due to dampness are the main culprits. So good housekeeping is essential in stores.

6. Static electricity

Static electricity is the electrical charge produced on dissimilar materials caused by relative motion between each when it contact. In gaseous condition, the importance of static electricity should be noted for tanks and piping, aand there should be a continuity wire which is properly grounded.

Risk of Shipboard Explosion

Flammability and Explosiveness:

A mixture of hydrocarbon gas and air cannot be ignited and burn unless its composition lies within a range of gas in air concentration known as the “flammable range.” The lower limit of this range, known as the lower flammable limit (LFT) is the hydrocarbon concentration below which there is insufficient hydrocarbon gas to support and propagate combustion. The upper limit of the range, known as the upper flammable limit (UFL) is the hydrocarbon concentration above which there is insufficient air to support and propagate combustion.

So always the atmosphere outside the tank should not be maintained in the ‘flammable range’. Always there is the chance of a lifting of a relief valve fitted in the pressure vessel, so the gas releases should be kept well below the LFT.

Constant monitoring of the tank area should be made with the help of explosive meters. And for the safe working of the crew, the oxygen content in the enclosed spaces should be noted with the help of oxygen analysers and always the oxygen content should be more than 21%.

Precautions carried out to Avoid Electric Hazards

  1. Authorised persons only should interfere with electrical fittings. Personal electrical appliances usage should be avoided.
  2. Faulty fittings and wiring should be reported immediately to the head of the department.
  3. All electrical fittings should be firmly secured.
  4. Flexible leads should be secured properly to avoid being chafed or cut.
  5. Makeshift plugs, sockets, and fuses should not be used.
  6. Circuits should not be overloaded since these causes overheating failure of insulation, which resulting a short circuit current, which could start a fire.
  7. All portable electrical appliances, lighting, etc. should be isolated from the mains after use.

Precautions against Personal Hazards


The extreme coldness of some liquefied gases is itself a significant hazard. If the skin is exposed to severe cold, the tissues become frozen. This danger is ever-present in gas terminals and upon leakage in storage tanks. For fully pressurized gases with containment systems, even normally at ambient temperature, liquid leaks will quickly flash to the fully refrigerated temperature. Such areas should never be approached without proper protective clothing.


Toxic gas

Normally these hydrocarbon gases are toxic in nature; most of the liquefied petroleum gases are odourless. Propane and butane are “stenched” with chemicals like “Ethyl mercaptan” to aid in case of leaks. However sometimes the cargo is not stenched, depending on the receiver’s requirements. Most hydrocarbon gases dull the sense of smell after some period. The absence of smell, therefore, should never be taken to indicate the absence of gas. Dangerous concentration levels could be some times considerably below the lower flammable limits and the combustible gas indicators cannot be expected to measure concentration of this order accurately (so we use the dragger tubes which give the accurate measurement of the gas in terms of PPm).


The following are typical effects at higher concentration:

0.1 % – Irritation of eyes with one hour.

0.2 % – Irritation of eyes, nose and throat, dizziness and unsteadiness with half an hour.

0.7 % – Symptoms as of drunkenness within 15 minutes.

1.0 % – Rapid onset of drunkenness which may lead to unconsciousness and death in about 5 to 10 minutes if exposure continues.

2.0% – paralysis and death occur very rapidly.

So care should be taken to note the concentration of hydrocarbon and make sure that it is within the safe working limits in the gas storage stations.



Pilot On Board – Engineers Duties

Learn about the duties of a marine engineer when pilot arrives on board for departure from port

Departure Port Duties of an Engineer

We have studied about state port pilots or ship pilots in our previous article and know that pilots are local experts who know the port/s they are handling like the back of their hand. We also saw what is meant by a pilot ladder and how it is used by pilots to board ship during arrival port. In this article we will take a look at the duties of a marine engineer, specifically in a situation when the pilot is about to come on board prior to port departure.

This article would be very helpful especially for budding marine engineers who can know at a glance which all tasks need to be performed by them prior to pilot arrival.

1. Start the standby auxiliary engine, synchronize it with the running machine and bring it online

2. Give power to deck machinery such as windlass, mooring winch, crane and hatch covers

3. Check the following:

  • Main engine sump level
  • Intermediate bearing oil level
  • Stern tube oil level in header tanks and gravity tanks high/low
  • Turbochargers
  • Generators
  • Cylinder oil daily tanks
  • Fuel oil /diesel oil service tanks
  • Fuel oil / diesel oil settling tanks
  • Expansion tank reading for main engine & auxiliary engines
  • Water level in the jacket cooling water expansion tank

4. One hour before the pilot arrives do the controls test (telegraph, steering test & trying out of main engine)

5. Get propeller clearance from the duty officer and permission to turn and try out main engine on air & fuel

6. If any main engine maintenance has been done during port stay, ensure all the tools are removed from place (crank case, cylinder head etc.). Check thoroughly that nothing is left inside the crank case

7. Start lube oil pump, jacket cooling water pump and circulating pump

8. Start circulating the lube oil and jacket cooling water

9. Turn the main engine on turning gear at the same time lubricate the liners by hand cranking the cylinder lubricators

10. Make sure that turning gear motor shows normal load on ammeter or clamp meter

11. Drain the air system for removal of any water or oil in the lines

12. Open the main air bottle and auto start/stop valve

13. Disengage the turning gear, blow through the engine by air

14. Start the booster pump of main engine and supply pump

15. Close the indicator cocks and try out the engine on air and fuel on both direction

16. Check all parameters of main engine and turbocharger .

17. Emergency steering is tried out

18. Check the lube oil level in the tanks

19. Check the different alarms and their working condition (power failure alarm, low water level alarm, no load alarm)

20. Synchronise the engine room clock (if it is not centralized one ) with bridge clock

21. Jacket cooling water preheating temperature is maintained

22. Telegraph movements should be checked for various orders

23. The control test carried out should be entered in the movement record book at the time of testing

24. Main engine sump, service, settling and daily tank reading should be entered in the movement record book

25. All loose gear to be lashed up and secured properly as a bad weather precaution



Duties after Pilot Departure

In last issue we have discussed about the duties to be carried out before the pilot arrives. Now let us see, what are the duties to be performed after dropping the pilot?



As we all know about the duties of the engineer to be carried out before the pilot arrives and what are the actions to be taken before his arrival during the departure port.

1. When the pilot arrives the stand by engine order is given so start the booster pump, fuel pump and cooling water pump.

2. at the stand by time: CHECK THE FOLLOWING

  • Main engine & auxiliary sump level
  • Engine rpm
  • Flow meter reading of the main engine.

And record the following in the MOVEMENT RECORD BOOK.

3. Start the heavy oil and diesel oil purifier and fill up the service tank.

4 .During the manoeuvring of the ship away from the port, the pilot gives various movements to the ship from the bridge. So make a note of all the Telegraph movements in the movement record book with the time of movement and give the movements to the engine as per the order. An additional entry will be made on the bridge movement record book about the movements which they gave along with the time of movement .So in case of any accident the first document to be checked is the movement record book and fault will be found .

5. All the request and instruction from the bridge during the manoeuvring should be followed.

6. After DROPPING OF PILOT, FULL AWAY will be given in the Telegraph after that there won’t be any Telegraph order or Manoeuvring from the bridge.

7. At that time take the engine rpm counter reading and flow meter reading and calculate how much diesel oil is consumed for the manoeuvring and make a note in the movement record book .The amount of diesel oil consumed has to be informed to the company.

8. Now we are going to change over from diesel oil to heavy oil during running so first we have to heat up the diesel oil gradually for changing over to heavy oil.

9. As there is no need for the starting air as we have opened for starting the engine close the AUTO (START- STOP) valve and the MAIN AIR BOTTLE AIR STARTING valve .

10. Put of all the deck machinery power if it is not necessary.

11. Stop the deck water supply as there is no need for it because anchor wash is completed.

12. Stop the stand or any one of the auxiliary engine (generator) because power required will be less.

13. Once the diesel oil temperature comes to (80-85o c).change over the main engine consumption from Diesel to Heavy oil and note down the flow meter reading, settling tank reading and service tank reading.

14. Bring gradually the fuel oil temperature to maximum as per the main engine operation and maintenance manual and manually increase the speed /rpm from full ahead to sea speed .sea speed is the maximum speed that can be run on the engine by using the heavy oil .while using the diesel oil we can raise the speed only to the full away / full ahead which is less than the sea speed.

15. Maintain the normal temperature and pressure once there is no fluctuation of pressure or temperature of jacket cooling water start the FRESH WATER GENERATOR.

16. When everything is normal engage the shaft generator if the ship has shaft generator and shift the load from the auxiliary generator to the shaft generator and shut down the auxiliary generator.

17. Take frequent rounds in the steering compartment and in engine room

So in upcoming article let us see about the duties to be performed before arrival to the port.



Performance of Engine Room Watch

As a watch keeper we should have a basic knowledge about performance of the engine room watch as this plays a major role in case of emergency situations on board.

Thing to know for a watch keeper

1. The watch keeping engineer should make use of internal communication equipment’s.

2. Escape route from machinery spaces.

3. Alarm system and distinguish the various alarm special reference to fire alarm.

4. Location of fire fighting equipment’s and damage control gears in the machinery spaces and their use and safety precautions to be observed.

5. Any machinery not functioning or expected to be noted.

6. Plans to be made for the finest action .If manned, watch keeping engineer should be able to operate propulsion equipment’s if there is any need to change direction or speed.

7. In UMS ships, the watch keeping engineer should be available if there is a call.

8. All bridge orders should be executed.

9. On-going maintenance of all machinery to be carried out on all electrical, hydraulic, pneumatic mechanical works. Should know the isolation and by passing the machine when call for standby he should be in state of readiness.

10. Watch keeping engineer should not take any duties other than watch keeping adequate rounds should be taken in steering gear compartments.

11. Watch keeping engineer should not leave the machinery space Un-supervised, he should make substute if necessary.

12. Watch keeping engineer should take action to contain the effects of damages resulting from break down, fire, flooding, rupture and collision.

13. All events related to main and auxiliary machinery suitably recorded before off duty. He should co-operate with the preventive maintenance work.

14. Any malfunction of machinery or loss of steering and in the event of fire to be informed immediately to bridge.

15. Chief engineer to be informed in case of engine damage or malfunction and break down of propulsion machinery, monitoring and governing system and any emergency.

16. He should make sure air or steam pressure is available for sound signals.

17. In coastal or conjusted waters he should make sure adequate reserve of power for steering and manoeuvring equipment’s.

18. Emergency steering and other auxiliary equipments should be kept ready for immediate operation.



How to Handle an Emergency on a Ship?

This article gives you the picture of various emergency situations that might arise on a vessel and ways to tackle them


Whenever some incident of a serious or harmful nature happens all of a sudden, we classify it as an emergency. One of the most important factors in dealing with an emergency situation is the presence of a solid action plan apart from a sharp mind and lack of fear. This is a general rule which is applicable to all situations whether on board a ship in the middle of the ocean, or in a crowded city admist a sea of people.

Nevertheless the situation on a ship is more critical since normally ships are isolated floating objects moving in the vast and deep seas. It is therefore necessary to know about the emergency essentials since there are so many types of emergencies which might arise when a ship is sailing or even at port.

We have been dealing with various types of situations in separate articles, but here we will take a look at the general procedure and plans to be followed in case of emergency situation on board a ship.

Emergency Essentials – Types of Emergencies

This emergency organisation will perforce consist of ship board personnel who will have the advice and possibly even the assistance of the company personnel response team/shore personnel. For effective usage of the limited emergency equipment available on board all personnel must be aware of the location of fire fighting gear and lifesaving appliances and trained in their use .They must also be aware of the alarms signals, recognize them and muster at the muster point in case of any type of emergency.

The General alarm will be sounded in the event of:

  • Fire.
  • Collision.
  • Grounding.
  • Man overboard.
  • cargo hose burst.
  • Major leakage or spillage of oil cargo.
  • Any other emergency which calls for emergency action.

Other Alarms could include :

  • Engineer alarm for unmanned machinery spaces.
  • CO2 release alarm.
  • FIRE detector alarms.
  • I G system alarms.
  • Cargo tank level alarms.
  • Refrigerated store alarm etc.

The basic structure of the emergency organisation will consist of four teams


The Command Center

The command center will be located on bridge. The master is to take responsibility for the overall safety and navigation of the ship . All communications will be performed from here to the different teams as well as shore. A log must be maintained of all events.

The command center will consist of the

  • 3rd OFFICER
  • Able Sea Man

The Emergency Team

The Emergency team will have the front line job of tackling the emergency. In general the chief officer will lead the team for the emergency on deck while the 2nd engineer will take charge for engine room emergencies. The duties of each person will have to be laid down and practice for every emergency so as to avoid duplication, confusion, and chaos.

The team may be made up of :

  • 2nd ENGINEER
  • A.B

The Support Team

The Support Team is to provide FIRST-AID and prepare the lifeboats for lowering .Should the above two function not be required ,they should assist as directed .

The Team consist of :

  • 2nd OFFICER
  • A.S

The Engineer’s / Technical Team

The Engineer’s team will maintain the propulsion and manoeuvring capability of the ship and auxiliary services as far as is possible in the circumstances.

The engine room will be manned by the:

  • WIPER.

The duties of each team in the event of various emergencies we will see in the upcoming articles.

Different Types of Emergency Situation on Board

This series will give you the idea of different types of emergency situation on board the ship. So in case of the emergency what are the actions to be taken and basic structure of emergency handling team? So of the emergency are engine room fires, flooding of engine room etc.



What to Do In Case Of Fire/Explosion on Ship ?



We have been studying about various situations involving fire on board a ship. We also studied about two specific situations involving fire in a cargo hold at sea, as well as shore cargo hold fire. Basically these articles deal with specific situations and actions to be taken. In this article we will study about a generic situation where fire is involved.

As you must be aware fire and explosion often go hand in hand. An explosion can lead to a fire; and a fire can lead to an explosion. So whenever there is either of the two, it is quite safe (unsafe actually) to assume that the other might follow suit. Hence it is necessary to follow fire and explosion principles and procedures, lest the proportion of damage goes out of hand.

  1. Raise the Emergency alarm.
  2. Determine Location of the fire/explosion.
  3. Check for oil/hazardous substances, pollution & possibility of one.
  4. Determine any casualties and provide FIRST AID if necessary.
  5. Find out the type of fire.
  6. If necessary start the fire pump.
  7. In case of engine room fire start the emergency fire pump and close the isolating valve.
  8. Close all the QCVs (quick closing valves).
  9. Contain and extinguish the fire (using fixed system if necessary).
  10. Set up emergency distress transmitter and keep ready for use.


Stop cargo work, evacuate shore personnel, keep main engine ready and inform port and fire authorities.

Power Failure

Trouble seldom comes alone, and sometimes it may so happen that apart from handling the fire and/or explosion, there might be a blackout situation. The following additional steps must be taken apart from the previously mentioned points.

  • Rivet to manual steering and use the magnetic compass for heading.
  • Engineers to rectify fault and revert to normal power.
  • Take whatever actions are necessary to maintain the vessel in a safe position
  • If emergency power did not cut-in and the vessel is unable to manoeuvre safely, SECURITE message must be broadcast and display NUC (Not under Command) Signals.

As you know, there are several teams which are pre-divided and everyone on the ship knows his/her team and location or muster point. The duties of the various teams including the main command center team have been described briefly as follows

Command Team Duties

  1. Fix the ship position and record all movements /events.
  2. Compile communication reports and monitor weather condition.
  3. Inform the technical department and designated person and advise them of the status.
  4. Determine the possibility of sinking, breaking up or capsizing in due course.
  5. Exhibit the required signals and broadcast a distress/urgency/safety messages as per the circumstances.
  6. Inform the relevant authorities and for shore assistance required.

Emergency Team Duties

  1. Chief officer is to be in charge of any deck emergency.
  2. 2nd engineer to in charge of any engine emergency.
  3. Identify and assess the source and report to Command Center.
  4. Contain and extinguish the fire.
  5. check for oil pollution and act accordingly.
  6. Check stability criteria and stress.
  7. Assess extent of damage to vessel / cargo.

Support Team Duties

  1. Provide first aid.
  2. Prepare life boats.
  3. Shut all water tight door and vents.
  4. Assist as directed.

Engineer’s Team Duties

  1. Attend to ship’s engine room services and controls.
  2. Report the status of main engine and auxiliary equipment to the command centre.
  3. Stop vents and isolate electrical supply if required.




Marine Diesel Engine Crank Case Inspection

This article will discuss the importance of crankcase inspection. It will cover safety precautions to be carried out before inspection, the procedure to carry out the inspection as well as explain the need for shaft grounding system.


A consult with chief engineer informs the master the crankcase inspection has been carried out at regular intervals. Normally this inspection is also carried out at every port when the vessel is set to sail for a long voyage, to ensure that the moving gears are in proper condition. By carrying out the crankcase inspection we can conclude the condition of the main bearing, lubrication points, and the crankshaft deflection.

Many operating faults arise when the lubrication is not perfect and the lubrication points are being chocked, improper lubrication can even cause a crankcase explosion due to the formation of hot spots. The bearing failure will also cause static and dynamic imbalance, and finally result in crank shaft deflection. Slackened connecting rod bolts will result in high stress concentration at the joints, continuous tension, and compression stress act while the engine is running and finally result in the failure of the bolts. It may cause severe damage to the engine parts as the connecting rod tries to fly inside the engine.

So to avoid these problems, the crankcase inspection is carried out to make sure that the engine is safe to run for a longer period of time.

Safety Precautions carried Out before Crankcase Inspection:

  1. Shutoff of main air staring valve and air bottle main valve.
  2. Open indicator cocks and engage turning gear.
  3. Ensure engine has been tuned for at least half an hour before stopping lube oil pump and cross head lubrication pump.
  4. Stop lube oil pumps and cross head oil pump and place the circuit breakers in off position.
  5. Post notice “Don’t start - Men at work”.
  6. Inform duty officer for propeller clearance.
  7. Open crankcase door and ventilate properly.
  8. Wear safety gear; e.g. helmet, boots, raincoat, gloves etc.
  9. Use safety lamps, torches and tools.
  10. All pockets should be emptied of contents and all tools taken inside must to be accounted for.
  11. One responsible person must stand outside.


Procedure to be carried out during Crankcase Inspection:

  1. Firstly check oil condition for any smell, discoloration or degradation.
  2. Turn the engine to BDC and start checking from under stuffing box area for any sign of black oil, an indication of stuffing box leaking.
  3. Check the piston rod surface for scoring marks and roughness.
  4. Check piston palm bolts and locking device for slackness and fretting.
  5. Check the guide and guide shoe bearing general condition and the area around frame where guide is attached for any visible cracks.
  6. Check that the guide shoe end cover bolts are in place and not slack.
  7. Check cross head bearing general condition.
  8. Evaluate top and bottom end of connecting rod bolt, nut and locking device for slackness, signs of fretting, etc.
  9. Check for sliding of bottom end bearing (axial movement) or floating of connecting rod.
  10. Check for slip of web and journal by checking the reference mark.
  11. Check web in the area of stress concentration and check tie bolt (bottom side).
  12. Check cross grider, area around main bearing and bearing keep for sign of cracks and check around main bearing.
  13. All bearings must be checked for silvery color (indicates bearing wiping).
  14. Check the surroundings of the oil pan area of all units for any sludge deposits, bearing metal pieces, etc.
  15. Check crank case relief door- wire mesh (should be wet), spring tension, sealing ring condition, etc.
  16. Check the teeth of transmission gear for sign of wear.
  17. Check chain drive for tightness.
  18. Use oil mist detector on sampling pipe to check for clear passage.
  19. Clear all the foreign materials from the crank case, and make sure all tools are accounted for.
  20. Start lube oil pump and cross head lubricating pump and check for the oil flow and distribution.
  21. Check crankcase door sealing condition and close the crankcase door.
  22. Inform chief engineer (for satisfactory checking of crank case) and duty officer.


Shaft Grounding System:

Shaft grounding is also one of the important factors to be checked along with the crankcase inspection, because it may result in spark erosion.

  1. Spark Erosion is caused by the voltage discharged between the main bearing and journal.
  2. The causes of this potential are the development of a galvanic element between the ship’s hull (from sea water) and the propeller shaft/ crank shaft.
  3. The voltage produced should be grounded; spark erosion occurs if it is not grounded.
  4. The oil film acts as a dielectric, so the puncture voltage in the bearing depends on the thickness of oil film.
  5. If the load increases, oil film thickness decreases.
  6. In early stages, the roughened areas can reasonable cause pitting erosion, but later as roughness increases, the small craters will scrape off and pick up the white metal, hence the silvery white appearance.
  7. Keep shaft voltage below 50mV.
  8. High voltage means shaft grounding has not been done properly
  9. Spark erosion only occurs between main bearing and journal.


Control Test on Ships Explained


We have learnt about periodic maintenance that is carried out on ships, and also studied about types of ship repairs. In this article we will learn about the routine check of drives and equipment which cannot be exactly called as repair but is necessary for safe and efficient running of the ship. Let us learn about the procedure codes for routine examinations of these equipments, better known as the control test.

What is Control Test?

Control test is performed before sailing out and before arrival at port. It is mainly done to confirm the safe operation of the ship and to ensure that all the control systems necessary for sailing are correctly functioning in a satisfactory manner.

If the control test is not carried well in time before the arrival of pilot, then during the manoeuvring of the ship in the congested port waters if any one of control is not functioning; it could possibly lead to grounding or collision situation. So to avoid this state of NOT IN COMMAND of the ship, these checks are compulsory.

The control tests are:

1. Telegraph checks

2. Steering gear checks

3. Main Engine try out

After carrying out the control test it should be logged in the MOVEMENT RECORD BOOK stating that Control test is carried out in a satisfactory manner.

Telegraph Check

Before the pilot comes on board, it should be checked that the telegraph is functioning properly. The engine room telegraph should acknowledge the telegraph lever orders from bridge. The navigation officer in charge on the bridge and the duty engineer would ensure that the telegraphs orders are in sync and there is not deviation of orders given via the telegraph.

The movements given in the Telegraph are recorded in the MOVEMENT RECORD BOOK.

Steering Gear Checks

Communication should be good so that the steering gear movement is checked and made sure there is no deviation in the reading shown in the bridge indicator with respect to the Rudder Angle Indicator in the steering gear compartment or at the control station.

A watch keeper of the engine room will be provided with the effective communication device he should go to the steering gear compartment and check the original rudder angle indication from the Rudder Angle Indicator.

Auto pilot also checked along with this and reported to the bridge and in case of any deviation the correction should be noted by the officer on the bridge for correct navigation.

The Remote rudder angle indicator is located in the Bridge and in control room inside the engine room.

In bridge the indication is placed on three positions they are in:

  1. Port side of bridge
  2. Starboard side bridge
  3. In the Middle Of wheel house

These are provided for the easy manoeuvring for the pilot from the side he boards the ship. He gives the order by seeing the respective indicator located in the bridge.

Steering gear checks also includes the following checks for correct operation:

  • Over load alarm
  • Power failure alarm
  • Low oil level alarm

Greasing should be done in all necessary parts.

EMERGENCY STEERING is also checked. Local operation of the steering gear is done in case of failure of auto pilot PIN IN and PIN OUT position also done.

Main Engine Try Out

Main Engine try out is nothing but starting the engine and giving the movements like ahead, astern, dead slow and full ahead.

Before starting, the engine should be blown through and properly lubricated.

The movements given to the engine are also recorded in MOVEMENT RECORD BOOK and this test ensures that the engine is working in satisfactory condition.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 31 other followers