I signed on as engineer on an old coast guard cutter that an “eccentric” billionaire had bought as a toy. When I came on board, the ship was under arrest after a fuel transfer accident, and there was nobody to do any kind of handover.
The ER was enormously complicated, in an in-between state of modernization. There was primary 380V gen and one 110VDC gen in the ER plus one air cooled 380V gen in the forepeak. Most of the equipment was 110VDC, and the DC bus was normally energized off a transformer, but certain loads (like the windlass) required me to start the DC gen. The primary main engine coolant circulation pump was run of the AC bus, and the backup was run off the DC bus (DUN DUN DUN!).
I got one day of familiarization before we put to sea. Everything went all right for the first day or so, then I was woken up by sirens in the dead of night. The primary AC gen had shut down due to overheating. I started the DC gen, switched over, ran up one level to re-start the steering gear pump, and breathed a sigh of relief. In order to bring the rest of the AC equipment on-line, I switched over to the emergency gen in the forepeak, and figured I’d get two hours of sleep while the primary gen cooled off.
I got woken up from the sound of sirens, ran to the ER, started the primary gen, ran up one level for the load transfer, re-started the steering gear pump, reported all systems operational to the bridge. I diagnosed the problem as air locked day tank lift pump in the forepeak (should have checked that, but what can you do in one day of familiarization?), fixed that, went back to the ER, found the primary generator temperature climbing unchecked, and transferred load back to the emergency gen. Phew. I wasn’t immediately able to diagnose the overheating, so figured we’d run on the emergency gen for the 40-odd hours into port, and went back to sleep.
I got woken up from the sound of sirens. The sea state had worsened significantly, and the emergency generator had shut down due to a fire in the forepeak. I sprinted to the ER, transferred load to the DC gen, re-started the steering gear pump, reported the situation to the bridge, and fought the fire. It wasn’t too bad, just a grease fire that started because the emergency generator starting battery had come loose and shorted out on the bulkhead. Unbeknownst to me, three things had happened: The coolant pressure alarm switch had calcinated shut (a long time ago), the DC circulation pump fuse had burned out (recently), and the bridge crew had killed the main engine overtemp alarm (while I was fighting the fire).
Thus, when I breathed a sigh of relief and stumbled back to the ER to have another look at the primary generator cooling situation, I was met by a wall of steam. Boiling water entered cylinders 4 and 5 through the head seals and shot out around the injectors with enormous force. I sprinted up to the bridge, told the captain he’d be losing propulsion in 20 seconds, sprinted back down and somehow killed the main without losing all my skin.
You really can’t make this stuff up. I imagine this is what everyday life on the Bob Barker must be like.
Great thread, BTW, keep 'em coming!