Exams, Joining a New Ship

Indeed. I will sit my exams pretty soon, and (:crossed_fingers:) go back to work with my ticket. It feels like being thrown off a cliff.


Congrats. I’m confident that you will do very well.


Thanks. I’m a little nervous for the exams, but I’m really apprehensive about having boilers, purifiers, water maker, chem and LO inventories, air compressors, and fire systems all in my care. I’m not a person of faith, but I’m praying for a wise old oiler as a team-mate. If you could hear all the horror stories I’ve heard about boiler accidents this year… I will never never never skip the purge cycle, I will test the chemistry every day, I will read every word in every manual. I will not hyperventilate. And the cargo turbines.

Maybe the water taxi guy needs a helper…


Take my advice, do not read a hundred years worth of the Hartford Boiler Inspection Company’s monthly house magazine at a sitting.**

I was twitchy about boilers for several months after that.

**Now that AIG has bought them the magazine archive seems to have disappeared, pity.


One of the chiefs I sailed with required that if any equipment was opened up /being worked on, anything beyond routine maintenance, that the manual be pulled out and readily available with the appropriate section bookmarked.

This worked because after going to all that trouble most engineers figured might as well have a look.


Manual? What is that? All kidding aside, I ran chief on a Robert Bludworth designed ATB back in the 80s. . .there weren’t manuals onboard for most of the equipment. . .or schematics or drawings. . .and what few manuals that were onboard were manuscript copies of one-of pieces of equipment. Years later I met and worked with Mr. Bludworth and appreciated his genius. . . but man. . . talk about a learning curve as CE. . .

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There’s something so comforting about tracing the lines yourself, becoming comfortable and sure that THIS is the valve that does the thing you need to do, and then finding someone has sharpied the same conclusion on the bulkhead next to it. I love that feeling: its like walking over a scree field and being slightly unsure of the way until you find a cairn right on your path. Like an inukshuk pointing the way: voice of the ancestors saying, “yup, you’re on the right track.”


One of the things that I would have my new assistants do a couple of weeks after joining the ship is to trace out some of the basic piping systems and sketch me a schematic. This would show me their ability to trace piping, knowledge of the system and valves AND their skill and knowledge of basic drafting and symbols. . . you would be surprise at how many "licensed’ (granted, Oil and Mineral) engineers failed miserably.


One of the things I worry about is not having the time to do this when I join a new vessel. Its time consuming and “you’re not a trainee any more.” Especially on a UMS ship: where maybe you can’t go down after dinner without upsetting people.

Most engineers I know would appreciate the more cautious, prudent approach.

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When I had a new AE onboard, I would give them a sketch of certain piping systems and told them to start tracing the pipelines and then give me their sketches. Only a few of them noticed that there were a couple glaring mistakes in the sketch that I gave them. Such as extra valves or having them in the wrong place. This usually gave me a pretty good idea of what type of person they were.

Before anyone jumps on me, these mistakes had nothing to do with being able to safely run said system.

@Emrobu I’m curious about this statement. Although the large majority of the ships I’ve worked on were classed as such I’ve only worked one as CE that we actually operated as periodically unattended - and that was some time ago. So I’m not up to snuff on the ins and outs or customs of same. But…

What was your perception of the nature of the issue? I mean was it policy or just a feeling that was not welcome? If policy, was it based on being hazardous to your well being (say if you fell down a ladder within no one around) or based on your touching something you shouldn’t?

It seems you’re engaged in getting your license now so was that situation based on you being a cadet? And would have been allowed if you were a licensed engineer?

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Somehow I missed the memo about not going down during UMS, or how to use the deadman alarm systems. I went down a couple of times to tidy up something or screw around with something interesting that had been scraped or get a manual or a drawing that I wanted. One time there was a big leak that I found, so I went up to tell the First. He was like… you shouldn’t be down there… Its because they are afraid that I will fall or become ill without anyone knowing that I’m there. Supposed to be: if you attend an alarm during UMS you have to call the bridge (or cargo control room, maybe?) before you go down, activate the deadman alarm system at the top of the stairs, and slap the dead man alarm resets every few minuets while you are down there. Then call again when you have come back up, and turn off the deadman system. Bridge didn’t seem to really aware of the set-up though, so I don’t think it was being used as designed. Several times we set the alarm off by accident, or for a test and there was no reaction from them, as far as I was aware.

How often is the bridge console normally tested to include major control, or communications?

Thanks for sharing the circumstances. Thinking about what constitutes best practice in this area.

I think, on a ship, people don’t like to be surprised. If the cadet is going to go to the E/R in the evening the 1 A/E at least would like to know.

If the duty engineer discovers a leak on his evening round, that makes sense in a way and is not a surprise. But how do you digest the news that the cadet has found a leak when you more or less assumed that the engine room was unmanned during unmanned operations?

Exactly. Lessoned learned. He was surprised, but nice about it.

He didn’t hit you with “What did you do to cause the leak?”

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A 1st would never say that. That’s the chief’s job.

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Once the dust settled likely the chief and first were more grateful for having the leak found then annoyed about being caught by surprise.

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