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The Engine Room

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My experiences on the first night of the trip suggested that the captain didn’t seem too intent in restraining my explorations; so on the second day of the trip, I pushed the boundaries a bit and explored the engine room.  As I opened the engine room door, I was met by the wind-tunnel blast of hot air and a surprisingly loud noise that characterizes the engineering spaces.  It was surprising to me that it was so hot, since a huge amount of air is blown through the engine room, and also since the main engine wasn’t even operating at the time.  (We were waiting for our berth in Freeport in the Bahamas.)

Second Engineer Vasile Tita welcomes me to the engine room for a tour. Behind him and to the right is the exhaust manifold, located on top of the main engine. Directly behind him is the turbocharger. The exhaust pipe is visible on the left of the frame. This shot is facing the front of the ship.

I spent the next hour or so exploring the different areas of the engine room, trying to identify what various pieces of equipment might be.  Early in my exploration, I came across some of the engine department staff, including the Chief Engineer, Second Engineer, and a number of members of the engineering crew.  The second engineer gave me some foam ear protection, apologized for not having time to show me around, and went back to work.  The Chief Engineer (I didn’t know who he was at the time) acknowledged me with a kind of stoic nod, and continued his work.

As I continued my self-guided tour, I was impressed by how spacious, clean and bright the engine room was.  This certainly wasn’t how the engine rooms of ships were portrayed in the movies.  In addition to supplying power for propulsion, the engine room also included equipment to perform electric power generation, heating and air-conditioning, water making, and rudder actuation.  There was a large, well-equipped workshop included as part of the engineering spaces.

Later that day, the captain approached me in an almost apologetic tone, and told me that the chief engineer was “infuriated” that I had gone down into the engine room unescorted.  He explained to me that although he was the captain, and that technically it was “his” ship, the engine room was under control of the chief engineer, and so the captain had to respect that.  From that point on, I was requested to ask the second engineer whenever I wanted an engine room tour.  Fortunately, I got along well with the second engineer, and he seemed happy to escort me through the engine room during the “off hours” for photographs, or to answer any questions I had.  (As far as my explorations of the rest of the ship, the captain had no problems with me poking around by myself.) order for the ship to “back up” the engine must be stopped, and restarted in reverse.

It was interesting that the chief engineer didn’t say anything to me when he saw me walking around the engine room earlier in the day.  A few days later, I heard that they had had some technical problems in the engine room after I left, and the chief engineer was probably just blowing off steam.  (continued...)


The Engine Room, page  one - two

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