What a real chief engineer thinks happened to to Dali and why it hit the bridge

Good Video from a working Chief Engineer


Ha Ha Ha. He is more credible than most though because he doesn’t pretend he has an answer. I don’t think he works with the same type of plant as the vessel involved.
The blackout is not the root cause, Its a significant event in the chain but something caused the blackout. And something caused the something ect, ect, ect.


Maybe people expect too much from YouTube videos.

A summary of the full NtSB report not yet published isn’t going to happen. At this point it’s more like an ongoing conversation.

As far as making assumptions, which the chief seems to be at pains to avoid, there’s nothing wrong with that provided the assumptions are reasonable and it’s clearly stated what assumptions are being made.

I do agree with the chief that it’s possible to go too far out on a limb in creating a plausible but unlikely story.

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the electrons and protons had a fight so stopped moving, thats what really happened
2 different unions or some pay dispute?


Here’s a transcript:

Hey, how is everybody? I’ve become quite a celebrity in the last few days. I got a lot of positive feedback; everybody’s liking my videos and my comments on the Dolly. You guys who are liking, subscribing, and commenting, I love it. It’s a lot of positive feedback and everybody wants to know what I think happened. I don’t want to speculate; I want to kind of stick to the facts and what probably, you know, maybe where things look and and to go. But it’s very important, there’s a lot of misinformation out there. A lot of people, especially if you’re in the media, you don’t know what you’re talking about; you’re just making things up. So you’re getting it from the real guys out here in the field.

I’ve got—you know, nobody’s really looked at my resume. I got my license in 2001, I’ve been working in the industry since, so that’s coming up on 23 years. I’ve got about 10 years working Chief on a number of ships, some of the biggest, some of the smallest, a little bit of everything.

So, let’s get down to the meat and potatoes. The video I saw—the lights go out and that is the root cause of this accident. Now, why did the lights go out? I’m not going to say. If you are jumping to conclusions, you’re probably wrong. There are 40, 50, 60 different reasons why the lights could have gone out. So without data, people are just making up stories to hear things.

But that’s the root cause—the lights go out. When the lights go out, the main propulsion engine will stop; it will stop. This is not an option, this is not made up. This is how it works. All of these slow-speed engines need electricity for their critical pumps and as a safety device, they will shut off when the lights go out.

Now, can they restart afterwards? That is a very good question, but it will have shut off. There is a safety shutdown override that, if you know how to do it, it’s usually clear and apparent, it may have to do some training things. I don’t know that ship system; I’m not going to say how easy it is, it may be doable, and I’ll get into this in a little bit as to why it may not work anyway.

So, getting back to it—the Lights Go Out. The video I saw at one minute and 29 seconds, I see smoke. That’s good, that means something started back up; that’s what it’s supposed to do. I don’t know what that smoke is from again. We could speculate; we don’t know if it’s a generator, if it’s the emergency generator, if it’s the main engine. We don’t know; we’re making up stories if we’re saying anything else.

At two minutes, I see the lights come back on and that’s very important. It is exactly one minute in the video I saw from when the lights went out till the lights come back on. I’m assuming here, and I don’t like to do that, I’m assuming it’s a main generator because it was a lot of deck lights. It didn’t look like an emergency to me, but I can’t say that for sure.

So we go one minute blacked out, no lights, smoke at two minutes and 15 seconds. So this is only 15 minutes after the lights come back on. There is significant smoke; there’s more smoke coming out. That could be a lot of things; that could be another generator starting, it could be the emergency diesel starting, it could be the boiler starting, it could be the main engine starting. I don’t know. I don’t have a clear enough video. I’m not going to make up a story.

At two minutes and 50 seconds, it is blowing smoke out of it, and this is important for the accident investigation—it should not do that, whatever is going on there. And it could be a few things. It’s very likely generators, or it could be the main engine trying to run, and it doesn’t want to.

If I am an accident investigator, I would look very, very closely at the generator fuel pumps and see how much they stick because that is the smoke I’ve seen from pumps sticking and just dumping fuel into cylinders, and that could also cause a blackout. It’s something that should be looked at.

At three minutes and six seconds in the video I saw, the lights go out again, and they don’t come back on, and that’s bad; that’s not—they’re not having a good day; they’re panicking, there’s a lot going on there.

At four minutes, it’s still billowing smoke, so how is it billowing smoke if the lights are out? Good question, and this goes back to my previous statement that looks like a generator fuel pump stuck to me. It would still be running, but it’s just—it’s not running right, so that’s something that should be looked at.

And then at five minutes and 12 seconds, we see the impact with the bridge. So, what do we know? What don’t we? Well, the ship hit the bridge, the Lights Went Out—these are the facts of the matter.

Let’s go back to—will the engine run with no power? And the answer is probably not. For you not in the know, the way these large slow-speed diesels work—they’re not like a car, they don’t have belts and drives, and they don’t drive their own oil pumps and fuel pumps, those are all electrically driven. So when the lights go out, those pumps go out, your safety shutdowns kick in. The big I’ve never done this and this would be extremely rare is trying to run a main engine without those pumps. You wouldn’t want to run without Lube oil; you’re going to burn bearings up really quick—that gets very expensive. You would only do that if you were going to hit something like a bridge.

But back to the fuel pumps—if you don’t have electric fuel pumps supplying the main engine, I don’t think it’s going to run. This is an ME engine, which I don’t have a lot of experience on, which is an electronic injection engine. I don’t think you could get enough fuel to it for it to do anything. Secondly, these are two-stroke diesels and these are probably nothing like most of you understand. They have to have a Turbocharger running, and when the turbocharger isn’t spooled up, there are electric blowers that come on to feed the engine air so that it has air for combustion. Engines need air for combustion. Without electricity, you don’t have those electric blowers to provide air, so you have no fuel and you have no air. I don’t think it’s going to run very long. You use air to start these engines; you have a—it’s about 30 bar, which is about 450 pounds—that’s what starts it, but once it gets going, it’ll do a little something, but I don’t think it’s going to run; I don’t think it’s going to make any power at all, even if you got it started with no electricity.

We really need the accident reports to come out and look at those because there’s just too many variables that what could have caused it. I love the Cyber hacked stuff; you guys watch way too many Hollywood videos. Real life is not Hollywood; that’s not a thing; you’re making that up. None of this stuff is connected to the internet. If you hack my computer right now, what you’re going to get is service reports and emails, and they—you can’t turn the lights out; that’s not a thing. Stop watching movies; Hollywood has corrupted your brain.

Please comment below; I’ll try to follow up on a lot of your questions. You guys are great, and let’s keep up the dialogue. All right, have a good night from the middle of the Pacific.


:grinning::grinning::grinning::grinning:, super write up. It is more than 20 years since I quit sea. But I still retain some knowledge of the daily work we used to do back then. THANK GOD, you mentioned about the blowers above the turbocharger platform. We had 2 of them.
Without it running the main engine is not going to run, no matter what. Your surmises are very good, and I am not going to add anything to that. I don’t like typing, so I am going to end. May the Lord be with you always.
P S ---- You are right about the bloody Hollywood movies also…:smile::smile:.

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That’s not my write-up, I’m not an engineer, it’s the transcript from the video posted in the OP.

I did think the part about the blowers was interesting. Not mentioned elsewhere that I recall.


Okay thanks. Saw the video.
The emergency generator is always outside the engine room area. Mostly below the deck and we used to go down to start it those days during safety drills. It must have come on and the smoke is certainly not due to that. Don’t know what the fuss is all about it. It is there only for emergency duties and lights in the control room and E/R area till the standby gen starts and comes in load . Gone through black outs numerous times during my service , but not during manoeuvring. Main engine could not have been started so fast after a black out, no matter how much automation is there. Pretty sure about that. To overcome the shock of a black out during manoeuvring and just getting the standby gen on load will itself take time, then to check everything is ok with the switchboard and generator also takes time. We have to wait patiently for the report.

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It is now required by SOLAS to be above the main deck and accessible from the open deck. Not sure exactly when that change was made but I have been on 20-30 year old ships and only saw one below deck. Oddly that EGen was bigger than the AuxGens.

This was one of my thoughts regarding the smoke and the possibility towards the smoke being the M/E vs AuxGen. Without the T/Cs running you would be way heavy on fuel in your mix at start up so if you are trying to start them so you would get a s-ton of black smoke.

Hello Seafarer and Brownwater
Interesting … I thought the ‘located above the uppermost continuous deck’ requirement was always there,
along with ‘no contiguous border with a Cat A machinery space’. I have never seen the EDG located below deck in my sailing or management experience (for steel vessels). Sure it was not a diesel driven emergency fire pump? This can be powered by an independent prime mover or an electric motor fed from the emergency switch board. The cooling for the diesel in this case is not a concern as there is water to cool the heat exchangers, as opposed to radiator cooling on the EDG.

The aux blowers (generally located on the same level as the scavenge manifold) below the cylinder head and turbocharger platform is a ‘good to have’ and NOT a must to start and run the main engine. (no inhibits or start ‘permissive’ input for the main engine control system)

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ME engine. No mechanical lost motion to position camshafts, etc. Running and recently tripped DGs can be loaded right away … actually aside from the small loads (less than 75 kW or so that come on as soon as you have power on the MSB, the bigger loads are loaded sequentially (within 20 seconds or so).

No question it was the EDG. When we test started it I was standing next to it looking at the Emergency Switchboard. Very strange both in it’s location and size. I recall it being right off the engine room, go straight to the steering gear room or turn right and go to the EDG room. Also odd in the size, it was noticeably larger than the main generators.

First and only time I have seen either. Wish I could remember what ship it was, I know I still have pictures.

The title of the video and this thread is kind of weird. ‘Real chief engineer’. As opposed to what? ‘Not real’, ‘not really’, ‘fake’, or perhaps ‘unreal’ - but then that may be read as a super chief.
In any case, quite a bit of his commentary is not quite correct and or incomplete. He probably means well. Sorry


The MAN ME and MC models that I’ve worked on have an interlock where you cannot start the main engine via the automation without a “run” indication from the blowers showing on the MOP. It is possible from the engine side, though I feel it’s improbable that they moved control from the ECR to the engine side during the amount of time that this incident unfolded.

To be fair, you’ve missed quite a few marks as well…

I’ve seen ME model engines started without the fuel skid running. You’ll get about a minute of run time before you begin getting alarms for the fuel pumps on the engine not returning or for excessive pump stroke, then the engine stops. My experience has been that there is no fuel pressure or pump run interlock that will prevent starting the main engine.

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Hi Louis
Fair point. But please call me out when I am incorrect or miss the mark. Thanks.

It’s easier to follow your lead and say someone is wrong without backing up why:

It’s apparent that you have experience, it’s also apparent that your experience is dated and doesn’t reflect operating modern engine rooms. You exude a certainty if how things work that was true in the past but that doesn’t align with the current technological state of the machinery. Out of curiosity, how long have you been retired?

I will put my hand up and confess that my experience is also dated. Now where did I put that Fid.


Hello LouisD75
… Out of curiosity, how long have you been retired?

I am now retired for about a year. But may not be relevant as the last 15 years was in the O&G business providing fleet support engineering and brownfield services to our fleet of FPSOs.
What is relevant is that I stopped my sea going career in 1990.
What may be more relevant is in between I was onshore in the maritime business technical management with US flag ships (mostly Jones act) in the USWC. It’s an eye opener when you come ashore as you get to see many different ships and issues thereof that needs to be addressed. Also goes without saying one needs to be abreast of the latest rules, technology, etc.
PS: I did not comment on the video/transcript as the author did not post it. In any case, apologies if I came across as cocky and arrogant. Not the intention at all. Just want to see the reason for this tragedy and perhaps suggest changes to ensure it never happens again.