Best Captain vs. Chief Engineer Arguments

To follow in the footsteps of my favorite gCaptain thread, Best Captain’s Quotes, what are the best Captain vs. Chief Engineer arguments/discussions you have heard?


Captain: When are we getting our firepumps back on?

C/E: I’ve got two third’s on it right now.

Captain: Well… that’s better than one half.

Ok, not as good as Splash’s quotebut… what are yours?

en route to Chile…had a C/E switch generators while we were approaching and on top of Cristobal entrance with a 300’ barge up close…the old harbor pilot nearly had a heart attack…when the “ole man” got the tow settled on a mooring he called the C/E to the wheelhouse…seems that the C/E was “just performing his routine and it was time to switch over”…you would not want to have been a fly on that bulkhead…as mate I went below to hide…they relieved the C/E before we made the transit.

That story tells more than you probably meant to.

There was no planning or procedure in place for operating in confined or restricted waters.

It was not standard procedure to operate both generators in confined or restricted waters.

Who would have walked if the only generator running tripped offline and put tug and barge on the rocks?

No one notified the chief that they were maneuvering in confined waters.

There were no pre arrival checks performed.

This sounds like a textbook case of poor planning, poor management, and a total lack of communication at all levels. The chief should have had company on the flight home.

Just to keep this on topic; The bubbly cadet approached the captain, chief mate, and chief engineer in the officer’s mess. Looking at the mate he said, chief, what do you want me to do next? The captain looked quietly toward a corner of the overhead. The mate ducked his head in silence waiting for the inevitable. After allowing a moment’s silence to prime the cadet for what was probably the most important lesson of his day, the chief responded in an even but very firm tone “There’s only ONE chief on this ship lad, and it’s not one of these deckies!”


this incident dates to a time prior to IMO, ISM, SMS, STCW…back to a time on tugs when written procedures, checklists and the like didn’t exist…back to a time when most of what you knew didn’t come from a manual or what you did wasn’t checked off on a list…hasn’t been all that long ago by the way!!

**one C/E that I really enjoyed working with never liked to be called “chief”…his response was always “do you see any feathers on this bald head”??


this incident dates to a time prior to IMO, ISM, SMS, STCW…back to a time on tugs when written procedures, checklists and the like didn’t exist…[/quote]

Ah yes, and that is the reason the alphabet was invented … that and the office weanies needed more reasons to justify their existence.

As a engineer cadet in 1976 on the 1930’s era steamship Texas Clipper, we were struggling to maintain proper boiler firing and water levels while maneuvering into port with no tug assist. The steam plant was almost totally manually operated and required constant adjustments especially when we were getting bells like full ahead, full astern, stop, then back to full ahead, then stop. We were pulling and relighting new burners like crazy.

Under this situation, and maybe exacerbated by mostly cadets running the show, we lifted some safety valves and had some dark black smoke out of the stack.

The Captain Jacl Lane called down and complained about the smoking, to which I heard the Chief Owen Arkison reply:


I’ve got 2, both from guys from Mass.

C/E: Why wasn’t I informed that the ETA changed!?
Capt: Because engineers are like mushrooms, feed 'em shit and keep them in the dark.

C/E: Why did you push the engine override button?
C/M: We needed to maneuver and you guys didn’t answer the phone.
C/E Do you think we might have been busy?
C/M uhhh
C/E: Give a mate a ball and lock him in a cofferdam, 3hours later you come back and do you know what you find? The ball is either lost or broken, [I]don’t touch the f’n buttons[/I].

well…there is a huge contradiction pertaining to the descriptions of chief and captain but there is a an individuality sing and same duties ,and it should be but authorities may vary cz it would have changed due to time prior u all don’t forget the abilities of both…

A Capt. and Chief Engineer were arguing as to who had the most important job onboard. After a few minutes of growling they decided to switch jobs to show that they could do the other’s just as well. After about an hour the Captain came to the wheelhouse and told the Engineer,

“Chief I can’t get it to go.”

The engineer replied, “Me neither, we’re aground.”


Chief talking to captain: This is my f*&%ing boat, you’re just the chauffeur.

I have sailed as Chief Engineer on large ATB’s for quite a long time. Once I had a real blow hard for Shipper and he was shooting off his mouth in the galley about how Engineers are worthless and such. Well I had had enough and looked him right in the eye and told him the his job was to keep us pointed in the right direction and the engineers would make sure that we got there.

I heard this from the C/E after he had a long and hard day trying to work with an electrician that had never set foot on a boat…The first he did was to call the C/E the Ship’s mechanic, which he got angry over, then referred to places on the boat as if he was ashore, like…Floors, Stairways, ceiling…

Then one of the mates by accident flooded the engine-room and the Captain told the C/E to calm down. I am sure he could’ve fueled a steam-engine by himself…He turned around and yelled to the Captain that he would be nothing but a drunkard ashore if he had not taken the job

I didn’t dare to listen in, since I fled the bridge and hid in the engine-room, soon accompanied by the Mates as Cpt. and C/E duked it out.

My and the engineer have had a constant disagreement about the offloading of the boat at the rig.

The Chief was always refusing to pump any of the below deck cargo when we had any amount of cargo on deck because he thinks we are going to flip over. I was constantly telling him that as long as the loading diagram is followed we will be good. This boat BTW can carry 800 LT total with out using the mud tanks and like 600 LT with the mud tanks. We ware no where near any of those numbers. He finely yells at me to show him in writing where he can offload the below deck cargo with anything on deck. I walk over get the boat paper work binder and flip it open to the loading diagram and tell him it’s right here. Apparently he thought I was pulling shit out my ass when I told him repeatedly over the past year that we can pump when we have cargo.

He then spends the next 10 minutes adding up the number of the below deck and above deck, why I don’t know, and then quietly goes well I guess we can give them some water.

Here’s the kicker the Chief also has a 500 ton Master. I honestly think in the 30 years of sailing its the first time he had ever seen a loading diagram.

Captain : Hey Chief! Can you order oiler to fill water in ballast tanks? We need to make trim correction.
Chief : Cap, this is dredger ship we do not have ballast tanks. (Thinking >>> Damn him!)
Captain : So, order your crew ballasting into cofferdam.
Chief : Better you should do it by your self, Cap.