Modern Marine Engineering

briant
15th August 2008, 20:49
As I get older, I think its just me getting old but is it ?

Modern built ships with up to date technology never cease to frighten me !

I am constantly surprised at systems that pass the scrutiny of Class and other institutions, but if examined, are poorly considered at best, and designed by people who never have to operate them, accepted by Companies with cost as the main consideration.

Ship structures designed to the minimum limit allowed by Class with the much
relied on finite element analysis software.

New camshaftless Diesel engines relying on extensive electronics, control boxes sighted within the accidental aim of a water hose, a situation which much to my surprise has not been fully considered by designers.

Emergency engine controls which are fully electronic, a weakness in itself.

I could go on but I know you are bored already.

What do you think. Am I getting old and need to swing with the times ?

Ian6
15th August 2008, 22:09
I strongly suspect that you are right. I was on deck long ago, rather than the Engine Room, but the same general concerns apply. We have discussed elsewhere the appalling prospect of two modern cruise ships colliding - 5,000 or more passengers, very scanty lifeboat drill (if any) and crews who speak a variety of languages and limited sea skills.
Every ship I was in was steam powered, mostly straight turbine but several turbo-electric. In all those cases the E.R. was fully manned 24/7 but you read now that modern diesel powered ships have minimal manning at night. Things go wrong at any hour - murphy's law says pick the least convenient time - with no-one down below, a fire or other incident could get a hold before anyone's aware or at least out of their bunk.
Something big is going to go wrong one day.
Ian

spongebob
15th August 2008, 22:34
Briant, Yes you are getting older but you also have the experience and hindsight to "feel the fear" of design limits being taken nearer and nearer to the wire and electronic automation being taken beyond the substitution of the mortal soul.
I have been ashore for too long to be able to express any constructive criticism of modern ship's propulsion etc but my years in the boiler industry has seen a similar course. Fail-safe controls are OK but there must be some form of safe manual override to many modern contrivances.
A recent example is a the failure of the electronic/ computer controls on a brand new S series Mercedes Benz. It stopped dead on the motorway without any means of re starting. Not once but on three occasions leaving the driver stranded . Sure the Agent was quick to attend but what if the car was in the bush or the ship in mid ocean.
Having said that I must admit that most old mechanical/marine engineers like me that have left the scene before the advent of this electronic/ computerized era have a degree of ingrained bias and resentment against anything that is not levers, bells and whistles .

Bob Jenkins

doncontrols
28th August 2008, 23:10
I kind of agree with you guys as I was around when everything was good, solid mechanical stuff. However, I work on computerised control systems now that are triple redundant in that the brains can figure out if a sensor is reading incorrectly, the computer program runs on several computers and they will dismiss one that starts misbehaving etc. But at the end of the day, the fuel valve power supply runs through several contacts including the emergency stop buttons and multiple overspeed switches - thus the E-stop will break the circuit and the fuel valves will close. It is fail safe in that a break in a cable, or loose connection, will lose the power to the valves, as well as any one of the devices on the circuit. So there can be a lot of thought puit into these things!
Cheers, Don.

JoK
29th August 2008, 10:44
It is scary. Ships are becoming technological nightmares and crew training is not keeping up.

Jas m
29th August 2008, 11:18
Computers are utterly fail safe ..... just ask the relatives of the pilots of the Air Bus that crashed at the air show because it thought it was landing and refused to let the pilots stop it !

surfaceblow
29th August 2008, 16:40
I have been a Chief Engineer on a T2 Sulfur Carrier to a highly computerized Diesel RO/RO. The first thing you find out is how to run the engine room manually. Once you know the process of operating the equipment without the automatic regulators and or computer you are able to trouble shoot any of the problems with the interlocks that prevent the next step from happening. We once had a cadet that would pull out the control circuit plans every time there was a problem with the control system and by the time he got to the correct sheet the First Assistant and myself had all ready located the problem. When asked how we did it I would show him what steps that were completed and the status confirmed by the computer and where the computer got stuck at.
I know the feeling of having a run away computer program on one ship with a Norcontrol throttle system the program for running up the engine to Nav Full speed was triggered by radio inference (it was later found out that a cell phone had triggered the program). The first time we were behind a other vessel at 90 rpm and the engine ramped up to 107 rpm. The Bridge throttle lever did not slow down the engine speed nor did the engine room control throttle. We regain control by using the emergency run button. The Emergency Run Button grounds out all of the engine safeties and programs and resets all of the computer programs.

chadburn
29th August 2008, 17:30
The problem with automatics was that they came (certainly in the late 50's early 60's) from land based systems where they normally work very well, unfortunatly when Companies like Esso. B.P. etc saw how things like automatic valve systems (worked from a central control room) operated in their Refinery's they started to put them on ship's which is as we all know is a totally different enviroment and they failed to perform. Daft things happened like fitting the aux boiler package with a "land type" low water alarm system sensor which caused some consternation at sea. Interested to read "surfaceblow" that you served on a Sulpher carrier I had a chance to sail on the Neass Texas ( a liquid sulpher carrier) but "backhealed" it when I heard the story/rumour of the Sulpher boat blowing up alongside the Jetty, even today I wonder if it was really true. Do you know anything about the story/rumour?

surfaceblow
29th August 2008, 21:20
Geordie Chief

I haven't heard any stories about a sulfur ship blowing up along side of a jetty. I have heard about one sinking in the channel, another one sinking with out a trace, the Marine Texan broke her back in Mexico.
Cargo fires were a normal occurrence. We would put a bucket in the high and low vents to block the air from entering the cargo tank that was on fire the tank wouldn't completely go out until filling the tank with cargo again. We had steam smothering system but normally we did not use it since the tanks were mild steel and the steam and sulfur would make sulfuric acid. We would have puddles of sulfuric acid on deck that the birds would stand in and when they would move out of the puddle they were short a leg.

Geoff_E
29th August 2008, 22:25
Try this site for size guys!

http://www.shoresupport.eu/

As far as the cruise ships are concerned, it's "when", not "if"; how much ill-informed comment and "a**e-covering" will that generate?

eldersuk
29th August 2008, 23:37
http://www.shoresupport.eu

Typical EU bureaucracy interfering in things they don't understand and written by someone who doesn't know the difference between 'principle' and 'principal'.

Disgusted - Liverpool

chadburn
2nd September 2008, 12:32
Surfaceblow, thank you for your reply, I have to applaud you going to sea on Sulphur Carrier's it all seemed a bit dangerous to me especially when the Chief told me that the Sulphur Pipes had steam jackets around them fed from two Lancashire type boilers, I think the tanks were stainless steel supported by expansion shoes if I remember correctly, I did go aboard her to have a look but declined the Chief's "kind" offer to sail on her.

briant
20th September 2008, 09:00
All replies have been very interesting to me. The one that grabbed my attention immediately was Surfaceblow, who said you need to find out how to run an engineroom manually. I agree 100%, but you can not nowadays. Such is life :). Thank you for your comments.

surfaceblow
20th September 2008, 16:07
There is always a way to run the equipment without the computer. I had the interface cards for the computers fail on one ship and did not have a spare card. Lucky this computer system did not operate the Main Engines. The Main Engines had its own control system. So instead of operating the ship with the computer you had to start the equipment from the motor controllers and open and close the valves either locally or from the outstation terminal boards. When the computer failed the valves and equipment would stay in the same state. If the valve was open it would stay open. The trick was to change the command for the valve at the outstation (have jumpers and know how to open and close the valves from the outstation). You also have to stand watches and have radios for the watch standers. On this ship we had 5 Engineers, 3 QMED's and 2 Wipers.

The biggest problem was about every month the computers would run out of memory and you could not move the cursor so you would have to reboot the computers to empty memory. So you had twenty minutes that you could not control the ship until the computers rebooted.

twogrumpy
25th September 2008, 11:35
Having left the sea IN 86, I did not really have much experience of electronic control systems on ships, and little with PC/microprocessor control systems. What experience I had on BP's Mitsubishi built 250,000 tonners was pretty good.
Working in control and instrumentation since leaving the sea, the thought of electronic control at sea I find a little worrying, I have had the control valves in a large pharamceutical plant operating under the influence of hand held radios during commissioning, turned out that there was an RF sensitive circuit in the range of pressure transmiters we used. System lock up and reboots quite often, possibly causing the loss of a large batch of expensive pharmaceuticals, but nothing as compared to landing a ship on the rocks!!!

PLC,s are pretty reliable and good to work with, the trend towards PAC control(PC) is not helpful. At present we use PAC control in credit card manufacture, the PC's are past their sell by date, like difficult to find an AT power supply to start with, the sofware will not run on faster PC's and there are I/O problems with newer PC's.
I heard a couple of years ago that London Underground had much the same problems keepng their old pentium? based systems running and were reduced to searching e-bay for spares, a little worrying if true.
Electronics at sea possibly not plain sailing, would someone with more up to date experience like to comment??

DaveO
25th September 2008, 16:32
In a similar vein, I was on the British Reliance when she was tied up alongside in Eurpoort for months as floating storage. One day it was decided to do some mods to the instrument air in the main control panel. To do this various engineers were posted to the fan controls, fuel controls, level controls and feed controls to operate them manually. As you would expect the boiler pressure wandered a bit from the set point of 62 bar. I think it went down to 60.5 bar. When the repair was done, instead of the second moving the set point to the actual pressure before switching back to auto, he left it at 62 bar and turned the boiler controls back to auto. You know whats going to happen next! All three air registers went in and the fd fan went on to high speed. As a consequence three months of soot sitting in the economiser and superheater left the funnel in a rush and deposited itself in the dock. It looked as though you could walk across it! Needless to say, the police were down in no time and imposed a hefty fine on the ship. The second, whose name escapes me, was a bit embarrassed. We all thought it was a great laugh. A good lesson learned though.
Happy days !
Dave

chadburn
25th September 2008, 17:09
DaveO, at least you did not exceed the alloted Smoke Chart Time you could have been fined more heavily for that!!! I am sure the Dutch employed someone with a pair of 7x50's and a stopwatch

Burntisland Ship Yard
25th September 2008, 21:23
An interesting topic, in my day (never thought I would say that hahaha) Texaco had a mixture of handimatic and semi automatic plants (UMS was only on a few ships like the Spain / London).

However, having done time on handimatic plants, was a good stepping stone to mving onto the "big ships" at least in those days most if not all of the engineers knew how to operate a plant manually, as one of the guys above have said, today it seems to be more like "go for the drawings" no doubt these are also now contained on some cd !

Still thats progress !

twogrumpy
25th September 2008, 21:45
An interesting topic, in my day (never thought I would say that hahaha) Texaco had a mixture of handimatic and semi automatic plants (UMS was only on a few ships like the Spain / London).

However, having done time on handimatic plants, was a good stepping stone to mving onto the "big ships" at least in those days most if not all of the engineers knew how to operate a plant manually, as one of the guys above have said, today it seems to be more like "go for the drawings" no doubt these are also now contained on some cd !

Still thats progress !

Sounds about right, you are drifting onto the rocks, the drawings you need are on a CD, just have to hope there is enough power left in the UPS to print them out, Ho Ho!!!
twogrumpy(Cloud)

Philthechill
25th September 2008, 21:54
I sailed on both "Atlantic Causeway" and "Conveyor" in the early '70's and their pneumatic automation was by Moore Products, an American outfit. (I believe QE2 had some of this kit on her too). The equipment was beautifully made and all of it painted in a gloss, battleship-grey.

The Moore Products controllers controlled Fisher valves and, combined, they didn't do too bad a job. The biggest problem was with the air-supply which had to be of instrument-air standards for the Moore Products kit. Instrument-air standards means, of course, that the air had to be, above all things, dry. What the designers of the system hadn't really thought about was that the air-compressors were sucking their air from the engine-room and what sort of propulsion were we? Steam turbines! The air-driers had all-on to cope with the amount of moisture in the air and, as fast as one column of silica-gel got saturated, the other one had just about dried-out in time to switch-over!!

The engine-room had been designed to run fully unmanned but Lloyds were decidedly nervous about having two "kettles" at 900 p.s.i. 1000 degree F superheat, an A.E.I. alternator spinning at 12500 r.p.m., twin A.E.I. turbines driving the ship at 25 kts. etc. etc. unattended every night and never granted approval for this to be implemented. Mind you I don't think I would have been exactly happy knowing that all that pent-up energy was unattended at night either whilst I was (nervously!!!) sleeping just above it all!!

There was one memorable occasion when we were in Liverpool on "Causeway" and the bloke who'd designed the automation (a guy called Rutherford) brought some of his cronies aboard to show them his masterpiece.

After he'd shown them the main-engine/boiler panels he stepped across to the alternator board and, explaining that to start an alternator, all you had to was, "press this green button", did so. (Probably thought, because an alternator was already "on-the-board", his actions wouldn't do anything! What he didn't know was that the automation was a complete cock-up which had a mind of its own and had never been commissioned!!).

Ken McKenzie (Chief) was down below and was (very fortunately!) stood near the alternators when he heard the distinctive noise of one of the "pecker-valves" (air-motored valves which had a ratchet-and-pawl type of actuator to open/close the valves and made a very distinctive "tick-tick-tick-tick" sound when working) operating and, looking-up, saw to his horror that the exhaust valve on the RUNNING alternator was starting to close! He leapt up and grabbed hold of the (red-hot of course!) handwheel but it was still slowly closing, even with his weight on it! One of the mechanics was down below too and, hearing the Chiefs frantic shouts, went to see what was the reason for all the noise!!

Ken told George, the mechanic, to get a hammer and flatten the air-line to the air-motor! As soon as the air-line was flattened the crisis was over, of course.

Ken raced up to the Control Room to see who or what had made the motor start to work and was told by the 4th that some shore-side bloke had been in the Control Room with a bunch of other, similar types, and it was he who had pressed the "Start" button and then buggered-off!

Ken recognised, from the 4th's description, who had "committed the crime" and shot top-side to "explain" what he, Rutherford, had just done but he'd gone by then!

Doubtless modern automation works a whole lot better than those early attempts!! Salaams, Phil(Hippy)

surfaceblow
26th September 2008, 02:28
I had a similar experience on the LNG Aquarius while I was on watch testing the boiler water. The Log Book sat on a portable table that rested on the top of the console and on the handrails and could be moved about to the console to enter readings in the Log Book. The cadet on watch with me reach underneath the log book portable table to silence an alarm instead of getting the alarm silence button he pressed the steam close button for the generator that was on the line. The automation required the valve to fully close before you could open the valve from the console. Before I entered the control room I could hear the steam valve closing so I confirmed what he had done and went to the motor controller one deck below to stop the valve from closing and reopening the steam inlet valve. When got back to the control room the cadet wanted to know how I knew where the valve and motor controller was located. I told him that you had to know where the equipment was located in the engine room besides how to use the console.

After that the valve motor controllers were modified so that you had to hold the button in to open or close most of the electric motorized valves.

chadburn
26th September 2008, 10:52
surfaceblow, good point you made there, a lot of "Sandwhich Cadets", but not all, thought that Marine Engineering started and stopped within the confines of the Control Room whilst wearing their immaculate white overalls, which is why a lot of Chief's were not keen on this method of training being "parachuted" aboard by Companies in the early days and much prefered the traditional route of the time-served engineering apprentice who knew at least how to take Leads before being a Junior Engineer. I was watching the "Trawlerman" programme the other night on BBC and I saw one of the vessels had broken down in the North Sea all because of a defunct circuit board on the main engine controller you would have thought they could have switched into a manual overide system to get them home, good job the weather was not to bad. I also noticed that on the fairly modern Trawler's they were/are still fitting the bog standard "dogged" hatch the same as the alleged suspect hatch on the "Derbyshire" without any so called modifications.

double acting
12th November 2008, 11:27
What was the real story about the US missile cruiser which lost all power for about half an hour because someone on board using the control computer tried to divide a figure by zero? This is impossible - so the infernal device shut all systems down

BOB GARROCH
12th November 2008, 12:16
Having left the sea IN 86, I did not really have much experience of electronic control systems on ships, and little with PC/microprocessor control systems. What experience I had on BP's Mitsubishi built 250,000 tonners was pretty good.
Working in control and instrumentation since leaving the sea, the thought of electronic control at sea I find a little worrying, I have had the control valves in a large pharamceutical plant operating under the influence of hand held radios during commissioning, turned out that there was an RF sensitive circuit in the range of pressure transmiters we used. System lock up and reboots quite often, possibly causing the loss of a large batch of expensive pharmaceuticals, but nothing as compared to landing a ship on the rocks!!!

PLC,s are pretty reliable and good to work with, the trend towards PAC control(PC) is not helpful. At present we use PAC control in credit card manufacture, the PC's are past their sell by date, like difficult to find an AT power supply to start with, the sofware will not run on faster PC's and there are I/O problems with newer PC's.
I heard a couple of years ago that London Underground had much the same problems keepng their old pentium? based systems running and were reduced to searching e-bay for spares, a little worrying if true.
Electronics at sea possibly not plain sailing, would someone with more up to date experience like to comment??

You should look at Motorola ACE 3600 PLC/scada products. They use MDLC 7 layer protocol they are forward and backward compatable. 6th generation of product can still work with 1st generation .. Communications by all mediums including TCP/IP produbts are 40 years MTBF

John Graham
12th November 2008, 12:18
I have been a Chief Engineer on a T2 Sulfur Carrier to a highly computerized Diesel RO/RO. The first thing you find out is how to run the engine room manually. Once you know the process of operating the equipment without the automatic regulators and or computer you are able to trouble shoot any of the problems with the interlocks that prevent the next step from happening. We once had a cadet that would pull out the control circuit plans every time there was a problem with the control system and by the time he got to the correct sheet the First Assistant and myself had all ready located the problem. When asked how we did it I would show him what steps that were completed and the status confirmed by the computer and where the computer got stuck at.
I know the feeling of having a run away computer program on one ship with a Norcontrol throttle system the program for running up the engine to Nav Full speed was triggered by radio inference (it was later found out that a cell phone had triggered the program). The first time we were behind a other vessel at 90 rpm and the engine ramped up to 107 rpm. The Bridge throttle lever did not slow down the engine speed nor did the engine room control throttle. We regain control by using the emergency run button. The Emergency Run Button grounds out all of the engine safeties and programs and resets all of the computer programs.

I know exactly how you feel. I left the merchant navy due to type 1 diabetes in 1983. From there I went to work for IBM as an customer engineer. I think my generation was the last generation that could look at the wiring diagrams and figure out how the machine actually worked, and who understood the thoery of how the machines operated. Today, the younger engineers seem to be taught how to read the error codes in the manuals, and follow the steps by typing into a keyboard. If that fails they are stuck. It's not their fault, it's just the way the system educates them. That's when people like me get dragged in. I can well imagine that in modern marine engineering, things will be rather similar. Computers are good. They can help save on a lot of the drudgery, but they don't have human intuition.
They also aren't foolproof. A lot of computer manufacturers introduce machines to market way to early. As a result the microcode, or firmware (the code in the machine that tells it how to work) has to be updated during the machines actual life. For computer sites with instant access to the manufacturers, this is an inconvenience. If your ship is in the middle of an ocean though, it could be a nightmare.
I have seen huge advances in the last 25 years in the computer industry. They are getting better all the time. A computer that would fill a warehouse 20 years ago, can easily sit on your desk today. But they aren't the be all and end all. One wonders what is going to happen when our generation is gone. Human nature being what it is, they will somehow work their way around the problems, but I worry about what disasters might happen before they get it sorted.

J Boyde
13th November 2008, 09:14
My favoured enginerooms were all 1940s to 1960s. Learned very quickly how things work, and how to keep them running. Wore out a few overalls, crawled into some hot units but it was a great life. Life moved on to power stations, more learning, again how to keep them running, or what to do when they failed, and more and more technology, but never forgeting the older skills, well until I had that dammed stroke, and had to start learning all over again. At least I had a great background to start learning with. It does however important that I reconise all the history and experience that I have been able to share with, and recieve from, many many people.
Jim B

doric
14th November 2008, 09:03
Well spoken boyo, Terence Williams. ex Elect Engr. R538301.(A) (A)

chris thompson195
16th November 2008, 22:13
does'nt matter where you are now,at sea or on shore,we're just buggered without bloody computers and automation.I was at sea in the early/mid 70s when I guess automation was becoming the norm.
As a first trip junior the ship was just starting to go unmanned but the chief decided to keep the juniors on watch by themselves with the controls to the bridge, green as grass chris on the 8-12,did'nt the bloomin engine go chuff,chuff,chuff and stop! Cue the chief,2nd,3rd et alcome pilling into the control room with a panic striken me trying to press every button in sight to stop the alarms "I did'nt touch f--k all honest"
Give me levers to pull, valve handles to turn and buttons to push any day.
I guess I'm just old fashioned and a grumpy old sod though!
cheers
geordie home rule
chris

waldziu
17th November 2008, 17:35
No Chris, you're just an old style Engineers, with charm, charisma and panaché

makko
18th November 2008, 15:38
In my experience, to coin a new age phrase, there is not enough underpinning or base knowledge today. Also, and it may be justified given the complexity of automatic systems, there is a certain ignorance of all aspects of the system and its design logic. I have seen too many serious losses due to plain ignorance. Operators will become blase and assume that the system will inform them of what is wrong - But it won't fix it!
Rgds.
Dave

Fieldsy
18th November 2008, 16:07
Left the sea in '85 but at that time the most important piece of kit in the engine room was the air conditioning in the control room. If that went on the fritz all sorts of electronic stuff overheated and malfunctions aplenty made a nonsense of the engine room being supposedly unmanned.

Bill Davies
18th November 2008, 16:20
In my experience, to coin a new age phrase, there is not enough underpinning or base knowledge today. Also, and it may be justified given the complexity of automatic systems, there is a certain ignorance of all aspects of the system and its design logic. I have seen too many serious losses due to plain ignorance. Operators will become blase and assume that the system will inform them of what is wrong - But it won't fix it!
Rgds.
Dave

Sssshhh. Don't tell them. Whenever you move into Consultancy you learn very quickly to fix the problem and not the cause. A lot of truth in what you say. What is entering the industry is now is going to keep me going until retirement.(Smoke) (EEK) (K)

surfaceblow
18th November 2008, 16:57
I can remember while I was Chief Engineer on the Marine Floridian being called at 0330 by the watch engineer because the calculator broke. The engineer could not enter the amount of water made and figure rpm's into the log book with out one.

I can remember using a pen and paper to do those figures and about a week (14 watches) into the voyage I could subtract the counter numbers and tell you the tons of water and that the rpm's would be without doing the long division. The numbers were that close each time.

So much to the Modern Engineers use of calculators, computers and computerized trend analyst. While I used all of the tools listed I believe we all could keep the machinery operating with out them.

I remember going to the office on my way back to the ship and a meeting with the Marine Superintendent who told me he could not open attachments on e-mails and my opposite Chief would only send the office attachments. Since Ray was a terrible speller and relied on the speller checker from word perfect. So a lot of the paper work for the ship was never read. I always wondered about Ray's signing his e-mails "best regrets" until that office visit.

paulm
18th November 2008, 17:14
I suppose the key word here is "inevitability" - and while i fully agree with the opinions of the other posters regarding the simplicity and reliability of mechanical systems, fail safes, emergency shut downs etc, the vested interests will never permit a return to systems that have already been consigned to history as far as the modern shipbuilding industry is concerned.
It is also quite natural that people of "our" generation will eye these modern electronic systems with suspicion and distrust if no other reason than we are outside our comfort zone.
However if we accept the inevitable there is no reason why we cannot use the knowledge and experience gleaned from the systems of the past and apply them in as far as possible to the design and operation of present day systems. Provided the modern day designers are prepared to listen and incorporate, I think this is the best we can hope for.
Paulm.

surfaceblow
18th November 2008, 19:48
I did not say to go back to old and obsolete systems. Just that basic knowledge has to be maintained. So that the operation and troubleshooting of old, present and future systems can be done with out the use of crutches. I still have a slide rule in my closet at home I haven't removed it from its case in 40 years but I still know how to use it. I do not even pull out my cell phone to figure out what the tip should be when leaving a restaurant or bar like I see the younger generation do.

It is nice that computers can be used to trend, file and print out work orders with directions on what the job requires and even tell you where the spares are located on the ship needed to complete the job. But shouldn't we know how to complete a job with out the need of a computerized check list (crutch). I have used computerized engine analyzers that always made mistakes on calculating the power on each cylinder. One program you could move the point of the start of combustion but a later program this was no longer allowed. The computer did not pick up the start of combustion. I do use modern electronics but I know how to do with out them. I even write snail mail letters.

I even sailed on ships that used PDA's so the oiler or QMED can enter the local readings on it and plug into the computer to update the engine log. I could even view the log readings from my office. I could even check in real time the temperatures and pressures of the operating equipment from my office start and stop machinery even the fire pumps, generators, and ballast systems.

I sailed with a Cadet who answered how would you parallel the generator on your present ship he answered that he would press the button on the console and wait for the computer to synchronize, close the breaker and share the load. No detail on what the computer did get the generator started.

makko
18th November 2008, 20:04
However if we accept the inevitable there is no reason why we cannot use the knowledge and experience gleaned from the systems of the past and apply them in as far as possible to the design and operation of present day systems. Provided the modern day designers are prepared to listen and incorporate, I think this is the best we can hope for.
Paulm.

Quite, Paulm. I recently had a case involving a very large recirculating fan which had disintegrated spectacularly (No one was injured thankfully!).

Our almost informal inspection of the system info revealed that the "specialist" company that had designed the control software had configured the operating temperature as 400 deg. CENTIGRADE when the design curves were for 400 deg. FARENHEIT!!!! The amazing thing is that the fan had worked acceptably for twenty years!!

Unfortunately, people tend to rely on the system, sort of like that detestable comedienne - "computer says...."

Regards,
Dave

Ron Stringer
18th November 2008, 22:38
Unfortunately, people tend to rely on the system, sort of like that detestable comedienne - "computer says...."

Regards,
Dave

Hey, Dave, how long is it since you got ashore for a break? That ''detestable comedienne'' is a 6ft 2 inch, 220lb guy, David Walliams. You'll be OK when you've had a couple of runs ashore, so don't worry.

paulm
18th November 2008, 23:53
Re: Surfaceblows post !
I agree entirely with your sentiments, I remember my first couple of trips at sea many years ago when the C/Eng considered the best place for a newly joined cadet was "bilge diving" - checking out pipe layouts. He would then spend a lot of time asking questions like - "what would you do if such and such failed while you were on standy entering or leaving port" and if you didn't have the correct answer you would be sent off to trace the relevant system until you had a satisfactory solution for him. He was roundly cursed by many a young cadet for this approach, but I have no doubt that this same basic approach has served me very well throughout the years. I always approach new machinery and equipment I am introduced to using the same premise i.e. basics first.
Regarding your point of over dependence on computers and automation I remember visiting a brand new naval vessel a couple of years back where a young engineer enthusiasticaly explained to me about all the back up systems
available to him via the main computer, however when I asked questions like what h.p. each engine was, localised operation of systems and plant, and what would he do if the computer froze or shut down he gave me a blank look
as if to say such things can't happen.
I think the foregoing re-endorses the points you were making.
Regards,
Paulm.

makko
19th November 2008, 00:29
Hey, Dave, how long is it since you got ashore for a break? That ''detestable comedienne'' is a 6ft 2 inch, 220lb guy, David Walliams. You'll be OK when you've had a couple of runs ashore, so don't worry.

Well Ron, mea culpa, I don't watch the telly that much!! Still, the idea holds! I am currently looking at a goodly number of diesel engines - The data system never flagged a problem, yet they wore all the fuel pumps out! Any mention of fuel starvation brings forth blank faces! "Computer says.........!"

Best Regards,
Dave

Radiomariner
19th November 2008, 01:26
Left the sea in 2002. In my last ten years I frequently sailed on a class of VLCC where the whole ship is run from four PC.s running Windows! Drifting in the Strait of Hormuz watching the computer screen while it reeboots with just about every alarm on ship sounding is not good on the nerves:

Running the Engine manually was possible but with only three engineers on board, and the engine the size of a five story building is a task that would exhaust the fittest of men. One man could do the the engine manoeuvering, but the other two would have to run around like blue assed flies maintaining fuel, cooling jacket, and lube oil temperatures amongst other things.
The re-boot was always the best, and fastested option, and in my time it least it always worked.
(I am talking here of computer failures, not mechanical failures. How often does your pc windows operating system sieze up?

Doxfordman
19th November 2008, 03:31
Dealing with a craft currently in the USA - and low and behold the office PC which holds all of the planned maintenance system has died. Hard drive has ceased to function. No back up, so the entire PM system has been lost. There are, apparantly firms which will recover portions of a hard drive but it's expensive. The ship has just finished a docking and various other maintenance, the charterers did not back up the system so it's back to square one. What happened to the old days of actual job cards?
Everything is controled by PLC's or directly by computers all of which do not like fluctuations in their power source, so it's UP's by the score. The electronic revolution never ends. The main engines don't even have a ball head mechanical governor to get them home! Loose the electronic governor and that it boys, out with the oars.

surfaceblow
19th November 2008, 03:34
We also had four computers, two computers in the control room one on the bridge and one in the Chief's office. Only three of the computers would start the generators the bridge computer you could do was to ballast and fuel the ship start the fire pumps, sprinkling systems and start the cargo hold fans.

I had the lock up of the windows based computers about once a month due to the virtual memory not clearing. If you did not back out of the windows in use then the lock up would be twice a month. It took twenty minutes for a reboot to clear the memory. For a preventive measure we would reboot one computer each week so all four would not be down at the same time. One other preventive measure was to reboot the computer that was going to be used for bunkering before we connected the bunker hose. I had the computer lock up once while topping up a tank. Lucky the PIC was using the Control Room Computer and only had to shift to the next chair.

At least on the ship I was on the computer only stopped and started equipment and alarmed when the temperatures and pressures were not correct. The computers only worked the main engines auto slow down inputs but did not operate the three main engines. The Main Engines had a separate control system. The temperatures and pressures were maintained by air operated regulators. The generators, ballast and fuel system all of the pumps and remote and sea valves were controlled by the computer.

The biggest problem was the computer would not see that a generator was operating if all of the computers were down at the same time. On restarting the computers they would try to engage the starters on operating generators. You had to remember to put the generators in local control before restarting all of the computers.

Ron Stringer
19th November 2008, 13:41
Well Ron, mea culpa, I don't watch the telly that much!! Still, the idea holds! I am currently looking at a goodly number of diesel engines - The data system never flagged a problem, yet they wore all the fuel pumps out! Any mention of fuel starvation brings forth blank faces! "Computer says.........!"

Best Regards,
Dave

Dave, it seems a world-wide problem. Visited local hospital earlier this year to find long, long queues for the car parks. Sat without moving for 15-20 minutes and walked to the front of the line to find the barriers closed and only opening to let a car in whenever another car left via the exit. However an eyeball survey showed that the car park was only about 60% occupied. People standing round shrugging shoulders. When asked, one guy said that they had talked to the operator via the intercom provided, and had been told that it was a computer problem and nothing could be done.

Went to the intercom, spoke to the operator who said that it was the first day of the new computer controlled system and they were waiting for the engineers to attend. I pointed out that this was a car park provided to facilitate the working of the hospital and not the other way round, that there must be an override to allow for emergency vehicles to access the car park and that on the first day of a new service, all access points should be staffed to overcome any teething problems. I suggested that unless they got a human being to the barriers or found a way to open them very quickly to let people in, some amongst the several hundred waiting people would solve the problem for the remainder by removing said barriers. At that, the barriers rose to the cheers of the crowd. Clearly there was an override.

Made a formal complaint after I had completed my hospital appointment and some days later received a phone call from the appropriate manager. It appeared that someone hadn't bothered to reset the zero status after the system trials, so the computer thought that the car park was nearly half full when it was empty. Not a computer problem at all, a very human cock-up, but the operatives all stood repeating, ''Can't do anything, it's a computer problem. Have to wait for the engineers.''

K urgess
19th November 2008, 14:01
Wish I had a quid for every time I've attended one of those,Ron (Cloud)
One site had been using the exit as entrance and exit for staff first thing in the morning and last thing at night and for special functions. Problem is you can't get out without paying even if the car park is full.
As to the other marine applications. If I'd programmed an industrial control system or designed one that behaved the way some of them did while I was doing that job I would still be doing time.

Kris

ROBERT HENDERSON
19th November 2008, 14:58
The problem I had with a computerised system was on my car. I went into town, done my shopping and could not start the bloody car. A friend towed me to a garage, a mechanic checked the fuel supply, squirted som stuff into the injection system and hey presto the car started. A few days later same problem, waited a few minutes and the car started, drove to the same garage explained what had happened only to be told that it must be the engine computer system, and would cost £500 to renew and fit.
Took the car home and checked the ignition system, the contacts in the distributor cap were worn as was the rotor arm. Changed the Plugs, distributor cap and rotor and have had not more problems, that was over a year ago. It would seem that like the problem described at the hospital car park is similar, in as much as these people are no longer trained to analyse problems, starting at the easiest first, give me the old time tradesmen everytime.

Regards Robert

makko
19th November 2008, 16:30
Frozen control system........Fuel (gas) still on full........Operators THINK - Aha! The overspeed! (shucks! we didn't realize that its controlled by the computer!)........Throw breaker on generator!........Fuel still full!.......Overspeed! Vibration! Melting blades and casing! Damaged bearings! Blades puncturing casing, fixed blades ejected 100m up the exhaust! Lub oil lines severed, enclosure fire!!! AHHH! THE HORROR!!

Cost of Damage: $18,000,000.00 US
Cause of Damage: Lithium battery in Data Control System
Cost of Battery: $3.19 US

Why didn't they just SHUT OFF THE FUEL! and trip simultaneously the generator!

THE HORROR!!!!!

Rgds.
Dave

Bill Davies
19th November 2008, 16:44
give me the old time tradesmen everytime.

Regards Robert

Give me a man who can handle a sextant and there yuou have a seaman

Derek Roger
19th November 2008, 17:28
Give me a man who can handle a sextant and there yuou have a seaman

Forgive me but I think you are in the wrong thread ? What has nostalgic navigation to do with Modern Engineering .
A 50 quid GPS will give you a better position without sun or stars .

Cheers Derek

surfaceblow
20th November 2008, 00:35
I was always told the closest tool to you is always called a hammer. May be he was going to hit some thing with it?

briant
22nd November 2008, 07:20
Thank you all for your interesting comments. I refer to Surfaceblow again, clearly a person with much experinece and common sense. We are delivering ships with the latest Wartsila Flex engines. I assure you can not operate these engines without computers. Prior to this development I agree. There was always a way. I suppose pilots had the same change when aircraft changed to "Fly by wire". Such is modern development.

briant
22nd November 2008, 07:34
I agree completely with makko's comments throughout. In my experience poor training, poor design and reliance on technology have resulted in many avoidable disasters/incidents in our industry.

chadburn
23rd November 2008, 13:31
briant, can you shut the Engine down without the Computer? You know the old engineering saying "learn the stopping proceedure before you start it"

surfaceblow
23rd November 2008, 20:56
When all else fails garbage bags over the air intakes work very well on all sorts of engines. I have sailed on a number of ships that required voltage to shut down the engines. (Sealift Tankers, USNS Survey Vessels required voltage to shut down the Main Engines the USNS Gordon and Gilliland the generators required voltage to shut down the generators).

Nothing gets the adrenaline pumping when the lights go out and the main engines are still running and the pitch goes to full ahead.

While I was on an MSC Survey Ship has First Assistant, the Second while on watch knocked over his coffee with his foot. The voltage regulators was right were the coffee dripped into. When the lights went out we were heading to the beach running lines. The Emergency Generator was a small 4 kW 120 volt unit for lights only. By the time I got to the Engine Room the air for the pitch control went down and the pitch was going to full ahead. I went to the shaft alley and hand jacked the pitch to zero. The Chief Engineer started the 300 kW Generator for the Bow Thruster. The Chief went into the Control Room and I got some plastic Garbage Bags and headed to the air intakes just has I got to one of the engines the Chief transfer the load to the main switchboard and the mains stopped. By this time very one was down below restarting equipment. I entered the Control Room the phone was ringing from the Bridge when I answered the Captain wanted to know what happened and a time that we will be going again. I told the Captain that the console grounded and we should be up and running in a half an hour. The Chief Engineer just returned to the control room with a heat gun for the second to dry out his mess.

chadburn
24th November 2008, 10:48
It's coming up to 20yrs since I was last in Charge of an Engineroom and it seems that instead of the Computer being an aid which is what it said on the box, the Human's are now an aid to the Computer. Not to be able to start today's marine engine without a computer seems like madness to me, I can understand using a Computer programme on the sophisticated todays engine's to move the basic parameters after start up to get the best out of the Engine but to be put in the position of not being able to put it in Manumatic to get the thing away in an emergency is indeed to me a bit of a backward step. Computer's may be fine to start up a Formula one engine but in the harsh marine enviroment with no alternative? I can understand why we have more fires in Enginerooms than there ever was when Mark One eyeball was on patrol. For today's Marine Engineer with an "Oligy" what happens if the thing goes down in the middle of the pond because of a Computer Glitch is it a matter of waiting for a Tug or an airdrop of that dodgy board?

paulm
24th November 2008, 23:40
There is one aspect of all this to which nobody has specifically referred to and that is the now widely accepted practice of U.M.S - and I mention it in the context of "Geordie Chief's" post and his refference to engine room fires.
It is widely accepted that engine room fires are more prevalent today than in times past, and I would suggest that there is a direct co-relation in this regard to the introduction of U.M.S. over the past 20 years. It is a matter of record that the overwhelming majority of E.R. fires are started by fuel leaking
or spraying onto hot surfaces such as exh manifolds etc. When engine rooms
were manned such occurences were more often than not spotted in there infancy and not allowed to develop. Anybody who has kept watches will tell you that time is of the essence in such situations, and I would suggest that no matter how efficient an automation or alarm system is, there is to much time lost between an alarm sounding in the on watch engineers cabin and his arrival in the E.R. to evaluate the situation. A specific example is when a fuel leak saturates exh lagging over a period of time - no alarm sounds until a fire
actually starts and at that stage it is to late to prevent a serious incident.
Call me old fashioned, but surely the costs to an owner of a serious engine room fire would far outweigh any labour savings achieved by U.M.S. versus a manned engine room scenario. This without taking into consideration potential serious injuries, loss of life etc.
Paulm.

Derek Roger
25th November 2008, 00:31
There is one aspect of all this to which nobody has specifically referred to and that is the now widely accepted practice of U.M.S - and I mention it in the context of "Geordie Chief's" post and his refference to engine room fires.
It is widely accepted that engine room fires are more prevalent today than in times past, and I would suggest that there is a direct co-relation in this regard to the introduction of U.M.S. over the past 20 years. It is a matter of record that the overwhelming majority of E.R. fires are started by fuel leaking
or spraying onto hot surfaces such as exh manifolds etc. When engine rooms
were manned such occurences were more often than not spotted in there infancy and not allowed to develop. Anybody who has kept watches will tell you that time is of the essence in such situations, and I would suggest that no matter how efficient an automation or alarm system is, there is to much time lost between an alarm sounding in the on watch engineers cabin and his arrival in the E.R. to evaluate the situation. A specific example is when a fuel leak saturates exh lagging over a period of time - no alarm sounds until a fire
actually starts and at that stage it is to late to prevent a serious incident.
Call me old fashioned, but surely the costs to an owner of a serious engine room fire would far outweigh any labour savings achieved by U.M.S. versus a manned engine room scenario. This without taking into consideration potential serious injuries, loss of life etc.
Paulm.

Paulm ;
I was one of the first to keep duty on UMS ( Unmanned Machinery Spaces ) It was on the MV Mahsud ( built in Sweden ) for Thos and Jno Brocklebanks ; that was in 1968 . It is not a new concept .
The fire / smoke alarm system was " Minerva " and was very efficient ( In fact it was too efficient ) It would pick up any exhaust gas leaks / smouldering and even water leaks where there was a suden increase in humidity .

I would imagine that systems now in place would be better than we had in 1968 .


Kind Regards Derek

MARINEJOCKY
25th November 2008, 02:28
Along time ago ship owners would supply un-lubricated condoms which as far as I know nobody used but then some one had a great idea and we used them to fit over the detector heads on the Minerva system to stop the alarms going off all the time. The Cumbria was built for UMS around 1970/71 and I was on board in 73/74 as apprentice engineer. I wanted to do my thing as a duty engineer (1st trip cadet and all). The engineers set me up, kept me out of my cabin and then sent me off to bed very early to be prepared. I went to sleep and then was woken by the spare ships horn that had been installed below my day bed by the electrician when the engineers kept me busy elsewhere. I ran out of my cabin naked and only stopped when everybody was laughing their heads off.

We could always by pass a computer in my day however on the new diesels with common rail injection we need electrical power for the injectors so I guess the answer is yes you do need power if those engines are on the new ships.

chadburn
25th November 2008, 14:02
like derek my first "contact" with U.M.S. in the Merchant was in 67/68 it was all very basic and somewhat unreliable and on the three bulk carriers I served on, the system was never put into full operation on any of them it was a lesson to me to keep away and stick with fully manned. Prevention (Mk1 eyeball) being better then cure. Judging by the number of reported engineroom fires the situation does not appear to me to have improved and would agree with Paulm's views on U.M.S. De-manning has gone a step too far on today's vessel's, yes, insured ships can be replaced but a much loved Husband,Father, Relative cannot.

R736476
27th November 2008, 00:33
Forgive me but I think you are in the wrong thread ? What has nostalgic navigation to do with Modern Engineering .
A 50 quid GPS will give you a better position without sun or stars .

Cheers Derek

Derek,
There is a very close analogy between engineers who only know what is on the computer screen and upper deck types who rely on GPS - ok until the Yanks switch off the satellites and it could happen again.

chadburn
28th November 2008, 13:57
As and "old style" Engineer I think my Safety's would be "feathering" if I could not get what was otherwise a serviceable engine away (after checks) because of a computer malfunction not allowing me to start it. A question for the modern Marine Engineer, Is there no by-pass system built in as a "get you home" measure on these set up's?. One of the most impressive "get you home set up's has to be the Father&Son type engineroom with a V.P. prop, not sure but I think it was a Jap idea unless someone knows different of course.

K urgess
28th November 2008, 15:08
The references to "get you home" scenarios are very relevant considering that if your car is less than 20 years old it probably won't go very far if the computer fails.
No such thing as "rebooting" it except literally. [=P]

makko
28th November 2008, 15:40
Geordie Chief,
One "get you home" uses a small diesel or electric motor. The ME is connected to the prop shaft by what amounts to a clutch. In the event of complete failure of the ME, it can be declutched and the small engine connected. The system has to be good for navigable speed, 6kts.
Rgds.
Dave

Y1004ever
22nd December 2008, 06:05
i don't know about you guys but UMS is just creepy. I don't think I could sleep in my rack knowing that there's nobody down below.
Last ship I was on still had BR/ER telegraph, single screw geared turbine and 2 y-100's.
There was just no way around knowing how to run it bay hand since all flash-up and maneuvers are done on manual, combustion control and and speed control were only used while cruising. I guess it was more semi-automatic than anything else.

Thankfully, it was all done with very reliable Bailey and Moore stuff. Don't you just love those boiler meters? It's so easy- just keep those pens together.

Just so you know, this was not 30 or 20 years ago, more like 4 years ago. I wouldn't want to work in any other kind of BR/ER. I feel bad for all of you that are stuck with the computers and scanners and whatnot.

Cheers

spongebob
22nd December 2008, 07:01
i don't know about you guys but UMS is just creepy. I don't think I could sleep in my rack knowing that there's nobody down below.
Last ship I was on still had BR/ER telegraph, single screw geared turbine and 2 y-100's.
There was just no way around knowing how to run it bay hand since all flash-up and maneuvers are done on manual, combustion control and and speed control were only used while cruising. I guess it was more semi-automatic than anything else.

Thankfully, it was all done with very reliable Bailey and Moore stuff. Don't you just love those boiler meters? It's so easy- just keep those pens together.

Just so you know, this was not 30 or 20 years ago, more like 4 years ago. I wouldn't want to work in any other kind of BR/ER. I feel bad for all of you that are stuck with the computers and scanners and whatnot.

Cheers

Y1004EVER.

This post takes me back in a flash with the mention of Bailey boiler meters. My first job when coming ashore in 1961 was to go to Sydney and do a course with Bailey Meters and Controls to become an instrument serviceman. It was BM&C Croydon then and a subsidiary of the Bailey Meter Co USA.
My problem was that many meters had been sold and fitted to manually coal fired boilers in NZ where keeping the Steam flow and Air flow pens together was impossible for much of the time due to changes in fuel , too fine ,too course, too wet too dry etc.
I came across one Scouce ex Stoker CPO who used to do his shift with the blue pen out of the arm and then ink it in over the red at the end. He impressed the Dairy factory manager and his shift mates until he was caught out.

Bob

Satanic Mechanic
30th April 2009, 10:54
Can't be bothered reading the whole thread but having dipped into it here are a few thoughts.

It is easy to get all luddite about control systems but not without reason. What so many forget about any control system is that they are a tool , no different to a hammer. They can be extremely useful - trends for example are probably the best diagnostic tool on board. But in order to use them properly you have to know what they are doing. It is for this reason that I always made cadets do things manually, first under supervision then gradually I would make them do a watch replacing a complete control loop, before they were allowed to operate the automation. They then had to learn how the automation worked - this is made easier by the fact they already know how the system works.

Camless engines are a great step forward - infinitely variable timing. But I have never grown to trust them - they are just too automated with no real manual overide. Just as an aside the variable lubricators are great - what a saving in oil and the scavenges are gorgeous, in my book one of the best steps forward in recent years

G0SLP
30th April 2009, 11:27
Too much reliance on technology these days. Most people are amazed when things break, but as an Engineer who understands how complex some equipment is, I'm amazed when things WORK [=P]

I agree with the comments about UMS operation and oil leaks etc, having had a bad fire 5 years ago which basically wiped out my Engine Room, fortunately without any injury or worse. Yes, the smoke detectors are sensitive, but had someone been in attendance at the outset, I'm convinced that far less damage would have ensued. Indeed, had the small initial weep been spotted during normal watchkeeping rounds then it's possible that no fire would have ensued. (It was 0130 when the fire alarm went off, so there was a delay as everyone mustered, of course).

Ron Stringer
30th April 2009, 14:21
''Regent Pembroke'' did not have UMS but was Regent/Texaco Tankships' first steam turbine ship with full Bridge Control. All sorts of things were fitted with sensors, linked back to control units and alarms in the ER Console. Major bearings were fitted with temperature sensors accurate within 0.1°C.

We sailed from the Tyne on the maiden voyage but soon after entering the Med, the 2/E found that the Irish 3/E had disabled most of the alarms ''because they were faulty and kept going off all the bloody time.'' When he was asked how he knew the bearings were not running too hot and so triggering the alarms, he said he checked first, by putting his hand on the bearing.

Sort of double fault - clearly the trips had been set too finely (seawater and engine room temperatures are somewhat higher in the Med than in the North SEa in January) and a 3/E's hand is not calibrated to 0.1°C. But we survived.