Worst buttock-clencher!!

Philthechill
12th April 2009, 11:46
I think the worst "buttock-clenching" incident happened, (to me anyway), on Cunard's ACL ship "Atlantic Conveyor" when one of the main boiler safety-valves literally "fell-off" the main steam-pipe!!

We had left Bremerhaven, been given "Full away" and were just about "flat-out" i.e. 24 kts, boilers on maximum power and settling-down for the usual fast passage to Halifax (we were missing-out Greenock/Liverpool for some reason. Probably we'd picked-up one of the other G2 schedules for reasons unknown now).

The engineers alarm suddenly burst into life and, fortunately because we'd all just left the Control Room, we were all back in there very quickly.

Again, (for reasons the passage of 30-odd years is blamed), I don't recall the exact sequence of events (anyone who sailed on these ships will recall how rapidly things would "fall-over" (sequentially), in the engine-room, once just one (apparently) trivial thing happened).

I do recall it was something to do with one of the feed-pumps having lost suction and tripped-out (de-aerator problem?) and the boilers getting dangerously low on water.

The stand-by pump hadn't "kicked-in", nor could the engineer-on-watch get the third pump to fire-up on "Manual" so then he had "pushed the tit" and got all hands down to help sort it all out.

Whatever the cause of the loss of feed-pump suction a most peculiar side-effect had been triggered whereby the for'd bolier (the two boilers were fore and aft rather than port and stb'd) safety had "lifted". In the normal course-of-things this would have been no more than an ear-splitting annoyance for anyone standing out on deck.

However THIS time things didn't go according to plan!!

The safety kept lifting/shutting, lifting/shutting very rapidly as the pressure built-up and was relieved (doing exactly what they were designed to do in fact!!!!!!) until suddenly there was a God-almighty "BANG" followed by a thunderous racket which could only be matched (probably) by Concord taking-off on full re-heat.

The noise was absolutely terrifying and, looking out of the windows of the Control Room (luckily we were ALL in the there), all we could see was a cloud of steam with lumps of lagging flying by. Conversation was totally impossible and we just stood looking at each other and wondering just what had happened (luckily, just before this happened, we'd got the water-levels stabilised as feed-pumps had been started successfully).

Eventually the noise started to subside until it stopped completely. (The boiler having shut itself down once the water-level had dropped due to the escaping steam).

"Russ" Gordon (Chief) asked me to go out and see if I could see anything which had caused this incredible noise and steam mayhem i.e. steam/water-loss out-stripping feed-pump supplying capability!!!!

I stepped out of the Control Room into an absolute blast-furnace of heat and, looking down from the steam-drum level to the superheat safety-valve location, couldn't believe my eyes as it appeared that the safety was leaning-over.

I went down to the safety-valve and saw it had broken-off from the side of the main steam-pipe!

I reported my findings to "Russ" and he looked somewhat askance at me and said something like, "You have got to be wrong Phil! Safety-valves just don't "fall off". Go back and check again".

However I told him there was no need for me to go back as that is exactly what had happened.

So he went and checked for himself and returned somewhat subdued!!!!!

We put-back to Bremerhaven and got the local Lloyd's Surveyor down to see it and he just couldn't believe how such a blatant bit of poor engineering had managed to "get through".

The method used to attach the superheat safeties was a piece of 6" pipe formed into an elbow and welded onto the side of the steam-pipe (from the weld to the centre of the radius would be about 18"). A flange was welded to the end of this elbow and the safety-valve (Weight? Probably a hundred-weight [50 kg. for our Continental Members!] or so!) bolted to this flange.

NO support of any kind was fitted!

Needless to say the Lloyd's Surveyor was most insistent on seeing supports welded to the safety on the after boiler and (obviously) on the repaired pipe for the safety which "fell off".

"Causeway" had her safeties modified too (whilst in New York by Ransome's I think).

It was worked-out later that the accident happened because of the high-speed lifting/shutting, lifting/shutting of the valve causing a resonance to build-up and, once the resonance reached a certain magnitude, the inevitable outcome was for the weld to fracture.

900 p.s.i. behind this fracture soon "persuaded" the valve to "fall-off"!

Incidentally all the plastic fluorescent-light fittings had all melted and many of the electric-cables adjacent to the escaping steam had increased in size, diametrically, quite substantially!!!

A real "buttock-clencher" in the full sense of the term!!!!!! Salaams, (Parboiled) Phil(Hippy)

Ian J. Huckin
12th April 2009, 21:16
Philthechill,

There is another thread "Steam vs Motor" and I think your posting here really identifies the difference. Steamers, it would appear, are mostly quiet and routine BUT when the fan is impinged by the brown stuff the event is far bigger. Your experience would be a case in point.

Mostly, on motorships there were many small "events" spread out...the bigger events happened but the consequences were generally less dire.

The common threat would be weather I guess. I had a buttock clencher in Typhoon Forest back in about '84 Really was concerned for about 12hrs if we would make it or not. The Chinese crew gave up and left the ER, just me and the 2/E down below trying to keep two ugly Storks running. Lost them both on one occasion, then lost an air start line and all air pressure then lost an air comp. trying to get starting air back...makes me queasy even today.

This should be a good thread...thanks,

Ian (Smoke)

Satanic Mechanic
12th April 2009, 22:51
Your right enough - almost all of my buttock clenchers/bowel looseners have happened on Steam ships. The c.o.p.t that continued to go faster after it had tripped on overspeed was a good one. The thought of closing that valve manually can still get the old gluteus tensing.

The emergency switchboard shorting out closely followed by the realisation that the emergency generator was about to put itself on a shorted board - biggest steps I have ever taken out of a room.

The worlds biggest ever water hammer hitting the deck steam valve I was opening - lifted me off my feet - thankfully it was a soft landing (EEK)

The bloody dingbat of 4/E forgetting to shut the steam drains before opening the master valve fully - having a buttock clencher of his own and running away as the Engine room filled up with steam.

Being employed as a turbine overspeed trip overide for 3 hours - "just stand on that plate will you" (Cloud)

discovering that we had used 230 tonnes of make up water overnight

sparkie2182
12th April 2009, 23:08
I must admit to one worrying occasion on one of the Cunard liners when the
champagne was served only slightly chilled.

not a pleasant moment......... best forgotten really

:)

Nick Balls
12th April 2009, 23:12
I was going to come up with something good but you beat me to it sparkie2182!!!

LOL

Philthechill
12th April 2009, 23:28
I must admit to one worrying occasion on one of the Cunard liners when the
champagne was served only slightly chilled.

not a pleasant moment......... best forgotten really

:) I remember a Chief Steward (name forgotten I'm afraid, [several hours and a sleep later, I DO remember his first name was Jack]) who had been secunded to Brock's, from Cunard, telling us about a TV interview he gave when the Mickey-Mouse boat (where he was Chief Steward) which lost its prop "Parthia" (?) eventually arrived alongside in Greenock (?).

He was quite a character, never without a cigar, and he reckoned, when he was asked, "How bad was it out there, Chief?", he carefully lit-up his cigar, looked off-camera (at some far-distant horizon!!!) and said, "It was sheer Hell when the J&B (Justerini & Brooks whisky) ran out!!", and promptly fell about laughing like a fool!!!!

It wasn't broadcast!!! Salaams, Phil(Hippy)

JoK
12th April 2009, 23:34
Going on watch and finding that the port scotch marine boiler gauge glass went empty when blown down. When asking the other engineer when this had started, he said the glass would go empty when blown down all watch but would fill up. I damm near passed out at the thought he had been firing the boiler for 4 hours with no idea where the water level was.
Or the gasket that started leaking on the feed water pump discharge to the boilers. That was at head height walking into the boiler room. No one seem to "get it" that if it blew out completely, that there would be 230lbs of 150*F water blowing out and flashing off. The 2nd liked his bottle a little too much. I was 21 and the new kid.

surfaceblow
13th April 2009, 01:22
My worst clincher was while I was on The LNG Aquarius. While I was Third on Watch during cargo discharge, one of the lower explosion meter alarms went off on the control panel. Since the ship was discharging no LNG was being feed to the boilers. That meant that the gas was in the engine room and the sensor was picking up the explosive limit of gas leaving the engine room burner gas hood. Since only one sensor went off I stopped the Engine room ventilation fans that were on the dock side of the vessel. The gas level quickly went down.
I found out later that the shore side facility released the gas.

Satanic Mechanic
13th April 2009, 09:54
Ok - who let the Cunard guys on,

Away back to your Pimms - ya shower[=P]

Fieldsy
13th April 2009, 14:40
My buttock clencher was somewhat more personal. I had to visit the doctor for an injection in my backside - at the Texaco medical centre not far from Brighton, Trinidad.
We'd had quite a session in the bar the night before and my own personal safety valve was feathering regularly, with excessively noxious fumes steadily leaking. I was in buttock clenching mode as I was in a waiting room with a seriously attractive nurse and didn't want to embarrass/ disgust her.
All went well until I was in the doctors room (nurse in there as well) and had to bend over, trousers around ankles, and receive the injection in my left buttock. The needle entering triggered the end of my ability to buttock clench.

I'll let you draw your own conclusions...

Satanic Mechanic
13th April 2009, 14:54
My buttock clencher was somewhat more personal. I had to visit the doctor for an injection in my backside - at the Texaco medical centre not far from Brighton, Trinidad.
We'd had quite a session in the bar the night before and my own personal safety valve was feathering regularly, with excessively noxious fumes steadily leaking. I was in buttock clenching mode as I was in a waiting room with a seriously attractive nurse and didn't want to embarrass/ disgust her.
All went well until I was in the doctors room (nurse in there as well) and had to bend over, trousers around ankles, and receive the injection in my left buttock. The needle entering triggered the end of my ability to buttock clench.

I'll let you draw your own conclusions...

oooh nasty

I take it you didn't get a date then

Don Matheson
13th April 2009, 15:16
Fastest buttock clencher ever. Working on the Brae Alpha a rather tall platform in the North Sea and waiting for the chopper to take me home. Duly arrive and we get on but chopper has a problem so we get off and they fly some mechanics out from Aberdeen. They seemed to have it fixed and four hours later we are ready to go.
Talking to the pilot when we are having coffee while waiting he tells us he wont need to test fly it as they know the problem and had fixed it.
Helicopter gently lifts off the deck, slides across the deck to the edge, leaps over and heads straight for the sea. 18 sets of buttocks clench but the chopper straightens out at about 50-75 feet and heads straight for a semi-submersible which was on out to visit list.
Land on there and pilot looks back laughing at us shocked guys. "knew it was all right" he says "(*&%$£**& )" we shout back, "land near a laundry so we can get clean trousers for going home."
Don

Fieldsy
13th April 2009, 16:04
oooh nasty

I take it you didn't get a date then

Correct - and maybe I should have posted it under the 'Windy Greeting' thread?
(Jester)

Hilly
13th April 2009, 17:44
Had several dicey moments but one buttock loosening near miss I really remember happened two days after sailing from dry-dock on the Tyne bound for Spain. While doing my rounds of engine room (4 Cyl Doxford) I was checking round the entablatures on middle platform for leaks etc. Just passing No 2 Cylinder when there was an enormous bang and a flash of flame shot out a metre in front of me at head level. I turned round and ran like hell the noise continued in loud swoosh’s. Made it down to down to the control panel and stopped the engine and raised alarm. Made my way back up to middle platform and met 2nd Eng. We made our way along platform and we found the gauge cock on No 3 Cyl was missing. Found out later the Chief Eng had done engine compression readings the previous watch , unable to open cock on No 3 Cyl as the handle was impeded by his gauge he loosened the cock off a quarter of a turn from the Cylinder and forgot to nip it up again when finished. I was not a happy bunny. Another metre further in doing my rounds I could have literally lost my head. We never found the missing cock

Satanic Mechanic
13th April 2009, 18:35
And of course you never ever forget your first boiler flashback when you are standing on the firing platform firing lance in hand.

Steve Woodward
13th April 2009, 21:07
Whilst not in the engine room this was a damaged tanker with the cargo in the engine room so I guess this counts - Wandering around the bottom of a cargo tank looking for the bulkhead - looked up and saw THIS ( http://www.shipsnostalgia.com/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=44181) in the gloom over my head - it was swaying slightly with the rolling of the ship
Took the photo in drydock - but left the tank PDQ
Steve

R58484956
14th April 2009, 10:47
On a changeover from number 2 gennny to number 3, not known to us at the time was the No2 overspeed was defunct, and as the load came off the turbine, speeded up and decided it had had enough being covered up all it life by a casing and decided to have a look at the outside world. Nobody hurt, but we had a lucky escape. The genny's were Bellis and Morcom.

Derek Roger
17th April 2009, 15:01
I remember a Chief Steward (name forgotten I'm afraid, [several hours and a sleep later, I DO remember his first name was Jack]) who had been secunded to Brock's, from Cunard, telling us about a TV interview he gave when the Mickey-Mouse boat (where he was Chief Steward) which lost its prop "Parthia" (?) eventually arrived alongside in Greenock (?).

He was quite a character, never without a cigar, and he reckoned, when he was asked, "How bad was it out there, Chief?", he carefully lit-up his cigar, looked off-camera (at some far-distant horizon!!!) and said, "It was sheer Hell when the J&B (Justerini & Brooks whisky) ran out!!", and promptly fell about laughing like a fool!!!!

It wasn't broadcast!!! Salaams, Phil(Hippy)


Parthia lost her rudder mid Atlantic Phil ( not her prop ) There is a photograph of her in Greenock in the gallery .
Cheers Derek

gordy
17th April 2009, 15:47
While on passage from Brisbane to Singapore somewhere along the barrier reef, we had an overspeed which tripped the boiler main stop valves, but not the fuel pumps to the boilers. ( We were catching the tail end of a cyclone).
I was a 2nd trip junior on the afternoon 12-4. The 3rd shot off to sort out the boiler safety v/v's that he had been working on, (some may have been gagged), screaming at me to help the fireman get the burners shut off. All engineers were very soon down to help. When all was under control and the seniors were checking out the fuel plant for the fault, I was on the manoeuvring plates. The phone rang from the bridge. It was the captain asking when we were going to get going again. I asked the chief and he grabbed the phone from me. The one sided conversation went thus:- 'If you had put some *ffin' ballast in as your supposed to do, this would never have happened'. The chief was normally a man of few words so I was well impressed.
The look on the faces of the fireman and 3rd when the fuel had failed to shut off convinced me were in a spot of bother.

cubpilot
17th April 2009, 20:54
Not exactly an engine related moment but to do with th barrier reef. I was on Island Chief on a 3 week round trip sydney,brisbane, lae, medang, rabaul, and back to sydney. same route same landmarks etc. one of these was that ww2 wreck that sits upright on the coral somewhere off cairns. from a distance looks as though she is sailing along just fine.

One evening heading south, 3rd mate doing the dinner relief for the mate we were on the main course when someone looked outside and casually said "that's odd the wreck is on our port bow"

well you have never seen two mens faces go white and then as one make a dash for the door. captain and mate for a few seconds were jammed in the doorway. Shortly after, and it must have been a record time to reach the bridge, the ship heeled hard over and we were backtracking our wake.

ccurtis1
17th April 2009, 23:56
Not exactly an engine related moment but to do with th barrier reef. I was on Island Chief on a 3 week round trip sydney,brisbane, lae, medang, rabaul, and back to sydney. same route same landmarks etc. one of these was that ww2 wreck that sits upright on the coral somewhere off cairns. from a distance looks as though she is sailing along just fine.

One evening heading south, 3rd mate doing the dinner relief for the mate we were on the main course when someone looked outside and casually said "that's odd the wreck is on our port bow"

well you have never seen two mens faces go white and then as one make a dash for the door. captain and mate for a few seconds were jammed in the doorway. Shortly after, and it must have been a record time to reach the bridge, the ship heeled hard over and we were backtracking our wake.

I was on New Guinea Chief in 1973. Did you come across C/E Bob Thorburn or 2/O Greg Bannatyne ?

R396040
18th April 2009, 10:14
I remember a Chief Steward (name forgotten I'm afraid, [several hours and a sleep later, I DO remember his first name was Jack]) who had been secunded to Brock's, from Cunard, telling us about a TV interview he gave when the Mickey-Mouse boat (where he was Chief Steward) which lost its prop "Parthia" (?) eventually arrived alongside in Greenock (?).

He was quite a character, never without a cigar, and he reckoned, when he was asked, "How bad was it out there, Chief?", he carefully lit-up his cigar, looked off-camera (at some far-distant horizon!!!) and said, "It was sheer Hell when the J&B (Justerini & Brooks whisky) ran out!!", and promptly fell about laughing like a fool!!!!

It wasn't broadcast!!! Salaams, Phil(Hippy)

Sounds like it might have been Jack Elliot Phil.. He was around that era and he certainly liked his whisky and was certainly a smoker and had that Liverpudlian sense of humour. Good shipmate .
Stuart Henderson

Philthechill
19th April 2009, 08:20
Sounds like it might have been Jack Elliot Phil.. He was around that era and he certainly liked his whisky and was certainly a smoker and had that Liverpudlian sense of humour. Good shipmate .
Stuart Henderson Stuart, you, as one of my daughters friends' once (memorably)said, have "hit the nail right on the hammer".

Jack Elliot it most certainly was! Very amusing bloke and a bloody good feeder too! Excellent! Shall I post the coconut on? Salaams, Phil(Hippy)

marco nista
19th April 2009, 10:42
How to clear a ship's bar of engineers quickly.

1.
Fill bar with engineers taking evening refreshment.

2.
Switch off music at the mains switch, producing 'running down' sound as music dies.

3.
Simultaneously flick off lighting.

4.
Stand well back as Engineers stampede towards engineroom

5.
Be prepared to buy a round when they return cursing. [spoken from experience].

Cheers

Marco

Macphail
19th April 2009, 22:36
Gazana... 1998. Andy Tennent Master. Pass the port to the left.

Saturday night steak dinner, in the middle of the Indian Ocean. all having a very good time, black out, No 2 Stork Werkspoor had piston seiziure.

We all charged down below in the red sea rig, 2nd Engineer, Bob, shouting like Jones of dads army, do not panic lads, he was told to f-off.

Such is life.

All the best,

John

JoK
19th April 2009, 22:56
How to clear a ship's bar of engineers quickly.

1.
Fill bar with engineers taking evening refreshment.

2.
Switch off music at the mains switch, producing 'running down' sound as music dies.

3.
Simultaneously flick off lighting.

4.
Stand well back as Engineers stampede towards engineroom

5.
Be prepared to buy a round when they return cursing. [spoken from experience].

Cheers

Marco

Or watch all of the engineers heads swivel and all conversation die when the engine sound changes, while they decide if it is a planned maneuver or if the engine is actually going down.

billyboy
20th April 2009, 13:04
Strange that. If i was asleep in my bunk and the revs changed I would wake up right away

billyboy
20th April 2009, 13:13
Worst buttock clencher for me was as a first tripper when standing under the shower with 4 greasers and 3 fireman and my bar of soap was on the floor. And NO I did not pick it up. I slid it with my foot into the corner and picked it up with my back to the bulkhead.
This resulted in peals of laughter from the others who became fine shipmates

cryan
21st April 2009, 01:26
Wasn't onboard at the time but joined a few days later.
It was a boxboat with a 9 cylinder sulzer with three Turbos all about 6 ft in diameter. the ship had just left drydock in singapore where the power turbine which kept up the speed of the shaft geny had been removed for fuels savings, however someone either forgot to change the nozzle ring on the centre turbo or fitted the wrong one(memory escapes me) either way on passage towardsa dohndra head at about 0300 the third got an UMS alarm for M/E shutdown on turbo L/O pressure, when he got down the pit he found the rotor of the centre turbo had gone for a walk through two bulkheads, destroyed the store, bounced of the ships side and impaled itself in the workshop bench. Just as well it was a UMS ship or the watchkeeper would probably have been sitting on that bench smoking a fag.

cryan
21st April 2009, 01:30
Worst I personally experienced was walking down the engine room ladder of a passenger ship in full fire fighting gear when a crankcase explosion had caused a fire. I vividly remember double checking my BA gauge and thinking , "I am not being paid enough for this!" true what they say though the training and constant sports days do take effect , you just go on auto pilot.

James_C
21st April 2009, 02:10
Worst I personally experienced was walking down the engine room ladder of a passenger ship in full fire fighting gear when a crankcase explosion had caused a fire. I vividly remember double checking my BA gauge and thinking , "I am not being paid enough for this!" true what they say though the training and constant sports days do take effect , you just go on auto pilot.

Recently I've seen Engineers refuse to take part in an E/R fire drill as apparently they'd all automatically be 'dead' and since they work in the E/R everyday they know where everything is and what to do in an emergency. Therefore the Mates and AB's will therefore have to 'go it alone' as they need the training.
Ok said the C/O (for it is he who plans these things) as that should be quite an informative drill for the Deckies. A few weeks pass and it's time for another E/R fire, again the Engineers refuse to take a leading role, for the same reason as before. It's pointed out that they're being a tad unreasonable therefore in the spirit of cross department familiarisation the Engineers can lead a cargo fire drill, with the scenario being that the 3 Mates were standing next to a container which exploded killing/injuring all 3. Another refusal, this time on the grounds that they know where everything is on deck as apparently they can see it 'through the accomodation windows'.
Old Man then laid down the law (quite rightly), needless to say he wasn't popular with those down below.

billyboy
21st April 2009, 03:30
Wasn't onboard at the time but joined a few days later.
It was a boxboat with a 9 cylinder sulzer with three Turbos all about 6 ft in diameter. the ship had just left drydock in singapore where the power turbine which kept up the speed of the shaft geny had been removed for fuels savings, however someone either forgot to change the nozzle ring on the centre turbo or fitted the wrong one(memory escapes me) either way on passage towardsa dohndra head at about 0300 the third got an UMS alarm for M/E shutdown on turbo L/O pressure, when he got down the pit he found the rotor of the centre turbo had gone for a walk through two bulkheads, destroyed the store, bounced of the ships side and impaled itself in the workshop bench. Just as well it was a UMS ship or the watchkeeper would probably have been sitting on that bench smoking a fag.


Now that could have been very nasty indeed. Glad nobody got hurt.

chadburn
21st April 2009, 12:44
And of course you never ever forget your first boiler flashback when you are standing on the firing platform firing lance in hand.

Glad to read you remembered to stand to one side before entering the firing lance otherwise you may well have been a "different person" today. Even when you are setting the Safety's and you can here them "feathering" it's still a shocker when they lift.

Philthechill
21st April 2009, 13:04
Just thought, having read through the various "moments" some of our stalwarts have documented, it might have been more apt to have called this Thread, "Worst Sphincter-Loosener" as that is the effect some of these events probably had on the owners of that most important part of the human body!!!!! Salaams, Phil(Hippy)

bjd
21st April 2009, 15:02
Was a a ship at anchor whilst at smoko a loud noise was heard from the ER
on investigation it was found that both main air commpressors had exploded across the ER bits of air compressor cooling spaces castings everywhere it took us about 24 hrs to strip down what was left of the air compressor rebuild it and run it to top the air bottles up we were lucky that no one was around the compressor flat at the time.

Bryan

Ian J. Huckin
21st April 2009, 17:33
Just love them Storks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If I had not sailed with TM410s at the time of this incident I am about to relate I would have probably crapped my pants, but you almost got used to it....

Middle of the Pacific, lovely calm warm morning. Went down below at about 07:45, brewed a cup and checked the log-book. 2/E was all happy about the fact he had a quiet watch.....BANG, CLATTER, THUMP etc. and a few seconds later, the Graviner alarm!!!

Dropped an inlet v/v in No.1 rb, bits went through the whole rb and came out of the t/c casing. Looked out the CR window and everything looked fine except for a slight haze of smoke but the water pouring out of the rb t/c intake filter and casing was really impressive!.......we all sort of shrugged....each man retreating into his private hell as we considered the weeks of work ahead while trading on the other damn Stork....

Hats off to other Stork guys,

Ian

cryan
21st April 2009, 17:41
James c,
Is that British Engineers? Shocking, what kind of Chief let his lads away with that? The E/R is a very different place when lugging charged hoses and in restrictive fire suits with bottles on your back. Drills are enforced strictly on the Cruise ships but P&O had an inclusive policy of allowing every one their say during and more importantly after the drill in the warm down chat. On the odd occasion when we did do drills for real E/R fire, Laundry fire, and a real bomb threat once. the incidents went like clockwork. On the serious crankcase explosion/ fire we had the whole thing from Explosion to all clear took 13 minutes, that would not have been possible if we had not drilled and drilled again and resolved problems during the wind downs after drills. as it happened we had actually drilled for a crankcase explosion two days before, just fate I suppose. Drills should not just be fire drills though, all emergencies should be covered.

James_C
21st April 2009, 18:26
cryan,
It certainly was British Engineers. I was quite shocked initially by their general attitude, certainly I'd never seen anything like it before. There was just an overwhelming culture of 'slackness' down below.
By all accounts, the E/R design and gear supplied made for a relatively trouble free Engine Room, with most duty nights being trouble free and no real problems, aside from the usual niggles etc. Because of this the chaps in question often complained they were bored down below, so some took to constructing personal projects during the working day, i.e. models, bits for the garden etc. Early doors they decided they were to have two half days a week on Saturday and Sunday. The half day concept was sacrosanct so for example if something 'fell over' at the weekend and required attendance down below on a Saturday/Sunday abbo then they'd have a half day on a Monday to make up for it, same thing if someone had an alarm at night which required them to spend some time down below. I could understand that, but it was taking the proverbial slightly when the 2/E had an alarm at 2300 and was down below till 0100, then took a half day the next day to recover!
On the occasions where we'd arrive in Port at a weekend and this then compromised the half day, you'd hear all sorts of complaints and moans, this was generally wasted on the Deck side seeing as for them there were no half days, and time in port generally consisted of continuous watches, often 6 on/off plus arrival/departure standbys.
One thing which did cause countless problems was the vacuum toilet system, paritcularly on the starboard side where there were 12 passenger cabins (Deck Dept lived there also), and often passengers would flush away various bits of rubbish etc and it'd block the system, whereupon it would automatically shut down the Stbd side. If this happened either outside the 8-5 working day or in the afternoon at the weekend then they would refuse to fix it until the next morning, saying that we could use the communal toilets outside the Bars, Changing room etc. However on the odd occasion the Port side would go down (where the Engineers lived) all hands would turn to ASAP. As you can imagine, this didn't set the E/R Dept in a particulalry favourable light with the Deck Dept.
Other issues included the electric telegraph system 'falling over' one Sunday morning, so when the 4/E (who'd been knocked off since the previous lunchtime) arrived down below at 0800, he was told to disappear as they'd be on watches after much protesting from the Chief and the 2nd (who were over ruled by the Old Man), in case the Bridge required to make an Engine Movement for whatever reason. He went straight back to bed. Being a Sunday, the Old Man and Mate went for their usual wander and found the 4th's cabin door shut, so in they go, put the light on and find him in his bunk. When asked why he was asleep on a Sunday morning at inspection time, his reply was "I'm a WATCHKEEPER". The Old Man spoke to the Chief about it, however the Chief 'backed up' the 4th.
We had numerous instances where the Engineers either refused to make repairs or suchlike due to the time of day, at times and in places where in the interest of safety we would have really needed everything in working order.
I recall one instance where an Engine Movement was required (when E/R was on watches) and the Telegraph moved appropriately thereby setting off the buzzer in the ECR. It wasn't answered and no change to M/E setting took place, so the 3/O tried to make contact with the ECR by both telephone and talklback to no avail. Worried that something might be wrong he sent an AB down to check on the 4th - he found him with his feet up in the ECR with headphones on listening to music! We were in the Gulf of Mexico at the time, surrounded by Oil Rigs and boxed in by a few Rig boats etc, and the 3/O ended up having to make a round turn to provide an acceptable passing distance for a seismic boat - he wanted to slow down so as to remain in the 'safety fairway'. Again the Old Man went off on one, however the E/R Dept 'stood together'.
Another instance was that we'd arrived in Port late at night with the intention of working cargo straight away, for which we requried air on deck which for whatever reason had not been setup by the Duty Engineer (2/E). It had been a long day for all concerned, so I nipped down to the ECR and flashed it up (open 2 valves, not difficult as the compressors were normally left on auto), just as we'd regularly done so on a sistership as a favour to the Engineers. 2/E appeared at 0730 and lost it big style, so as per his instructions, every time it happened in the future the Duty Engineer would be called back down below to do it. This was on a ship which would regularly arrive at night, so it wasn't unknown for a tired D/E to forget to turn the air on, hence why the various Mates had asked the previous 2/E how to do it to save waking one of the lads up in the early hours. Needless to say when they were called out at daft o clock, the comments were normally far from polite.
Bearing in mind that most of those there (this was a 'new' company) had come from pretty reputable companies such as P&O, Cable Ships etc and had been made redundant the attitude was surprising.
The impression you got was that they believed that the Ship and the rest of the crew (Deck/Galley etc) existed for one purpose and one purpose only, to move their Engines around the world at their convenience.
The 'Oil and Water' attitude was staggering in it's vehmency - and it was entirely one way, from E/R towards Deck.
This was as I could see it the result of a few individuals in Senior rank who were then imitated by their Juniors, unfortunately as they moved around other ships in the fleet such attitudes became more common.
I would point out that they made up a minority, most of the other Engineers either on the opposite rotation on that ship or on the sisters were what you would call normal, and there were never any problems.
As I said, it's something I'd only ever seen in that company alone.

cryan
22nd April 2009, 00:29
Cable ships eh? that might explain something. I once joined a cable ship which had been alongside for seven years (yes you read right) we joined, all new to the company or agency contract, and took her to sea for most of the trip. some of the stuff we found was incredible, for example a lifeboat engine with only one working cylinder since the second cylinder head was cracked. due to the fact it could be run on one, they left it! we had standing orders on the store system for golf balls and ski wax so you can gather where the priorities lay. a good trip but a lot of unecesarry work. The reason we were brought in was that several of the standing crew had set up home in the home port and refused to go to sea. they were not dismissed though as the company was run by guys who had been the same way when they were at "sea". funny enough they went bust not long after that. If I remember correct the Chief only entered the machinery spaces twice that trip once when the second dragged him to the prop room to witness a wiped shaft bearing, and later that day when the US Coast Guard wanted to see the same bearing.

JT McRae
22nd April 2009, 00:59
James_c

That's quite a shocking story you have submitted. The Chief should have been sacked way before things got so out of hand as you describe.
Brgds Tim

James_C
22nd April 2009, 01:29
Tim,
It's still going on.
Regarding logging/sackings etc you'd find 'movement' just before that was threatened, however it's nigh on impossible to sack someone just because he or those below him are lazy/bolshie.
The Old Man had little recourse with the company either, as the Marine Super was responsible for dozens of ships and was rarely seen, never mind heard, so our 'point of contact' was the Engineering Superintendent, and they all stuck together. Makes life harder when you basically have an entire Dept who are willing to denounce the Old Man.

Fieldsy
22nd April 2009, 09:45
Amazed at some of these tales. When UMS we did often have half days at weekends if everything was OK - but the slightest problem and we'd turn-to. That time off was seen as a bonus, not a right - so there were no gripes when we didn't get it.

twogrumpy
22nd April 2009, 10:45
http://i40.tinypic.com/2i92d68.jpg
This one certainly did something for me!!

gordy
22nd April 2009, 11:49
http://i40.tinypic.com/2i92d68.jpg
This one certainly did something for me!!
Now that's impressive!

billyboy
22nd April 2009, 11:54
So, you didnt straighten it out and pop it back in then ..... LOL

Oz.
22nd April 2009, 13:38
Second Engineer on MV Straitsman, arriving in Melbourne, 07.45, stern door was wide open. Water entered the cargo deck. Within a minute or so, the ship had rolled 90 degrees and proceeded to sink - with me still in the cargo deck. Ship sank to the bed of the Yarra. 4 hours later was dragged out by very brave rescuers of the Melbourne Harbour Trust Port Emergency Service. Sphinctre muscle was extreemly active but kept comtrol.

billyboy
22nd April 2009, 13:48
Wow! I know what it is to be inside when a ship goes down and the water is pouring in. I was lucky enough to be able to get out. Still dont know where i got the strength from. Guess it wasnt my time to go.

Fieldsy
22nd April 2009, 14:04
Wow! I know what it is to be inside when a ship goes down and the water is pouring in. I was lucky enough to be able to get out. Still dont know where i got the strength from. Guess it wasnt my time to go.

Since leaving the sea I've been in jobs where someone would complain of the 'pressure' they were under. I always replied: Bollix, being on a ship in the middle of the Atlantic and the water has reached your waist, and you still haven't discovered the source of the leak, that is pressure'.

I always kept the bragging rights!

Satanic Mechanic
22nd April 2009, 14:15
Tim,
It's still going on.
Regarding logging/sackings etc you'd find 'movement' just before that was threatened, however it's nigh on impossible to sack someone just because he or those below him are lazy/bolshie.
The Old Man had little recourse with the company either, as the Marine Super was responsible for dozens of ships and was rarely seen, never mind heard, so our 'point of contact' was the Engineering Superintendent, and they all stuck together. Makes life harder when you basically have an entire Dept who are willing to denounce the Old Man.

Oh give me a shot at that engineroom - I just love dealing with t--ts like that - especially as an engineer myself

Fieldsy
22nd April 2009, 14:35
Oh give me a shot at that engineroom - I just love dealing with twats like that - especially as an engineer myself

A rather large Welsh junior wound me up to a point beyond which it isn't wise to go. I lost it and dragged him across a desk in the engine room (don't know where that came from but it was useful) and told him his fortune (I was the 4th and he was used to intimidating the 2nd). He went up and told the chief he was scared of the engine room - didn't mention I'd put the scare into him.
He paid to fly himself home from Trinidad and fly out a replacement. We got a great guy as a replacement.

twogrumpy
22nd April 2009, 19:02
Since leaving the sea I've been in jobs where someone would complain of the 'pressure' they were under. I always replied: Bollix, being on a ship in the middle of the Atlantic and the water has reached your waist, and you still haven't discovered the source of the leak, that is pressure'.

I always kept the bragging rights!
Yes quite agree, many similar 'Pressures' like that over the years, not quite the same on dry land is it.
Had the water up to the waist a couple of times, in one instance that I have mentioned before, the ship that came to rescue us blew up.
(Cloud)

Satanic Mechanic
22nd April 2009, 20:41
Glad to read you remembered to stand to one side before entering the firing lance otherwise you may well have been a "different person" today. Even when you are setting the Safety's and you can here them "feathering" it's still a shocker when they lift.

Indeed - i found out what all those strangely head shaped bends in the hand rails next to the safety's were.

Panting boilers were another sphincter exerciser when first witnessed and to be fair pretty much any time afterwards

Ian J. Huckin
23rd April 2009, 17:49
Indeed - i found out what all those strangely head shaped bends in the hand rails next to the safety's were.

Panting boilers were another sphincter exerciser when first witnessed and to be fair pretty much any time afterwards

Understand that....watching a Scotch boiler panting made you somewhat indecisive about which way to run...the Yemeni donkeymen always seemed to know though!

Satanic Mechanic
30th April 2009, 11:02
Understand that....watching a Scotch boiler panting made you somewhat indecisive about which way to run...the Yemeni donkeymen always seemed to know though!

They did have a talent there thats for sure - I had one boiler man who was so boss eyed he could look at the furnace and the sight glass without moving his head - he did tend to walk into things though

James_C
30th April 2009, 14:28
Satanic Mechanic,
Would that have been the son of a well known C/E who followed his father into the company?

Ian J. Huckin
30th April 2009, 17:54
They did have a talent there thats for sure - I had one boiler man who was so boss eyed he could look at the furnace and the sight glass without moving his head - he did tend to walk into things though

Those guys were real faithful though, stuck with their ship for years. They all seemed to have those milky screwed up eyes and red teeth, from the bettle nut. Had one die at sea and it was really sad because he was so much part of the ship's history....

James_C
30th April 2009, 18:19
Ian,
Sailed with one professional 3rd who'd been on the same class (only 3 ships) for 14 years, what he didn't know about them just wasn't worth knowing.
Company policy was generally to have either the Chief or 2nd onboard at all times, however that could be relaxed in the case of this chap (although he did have his 2nds ticket), it was normally the Seniors who came to him for advice!

Satanic Mechanic
1st May 2009, 02:26
Ian,
Sailed with one professional 3rd who'd been on the same class (only 3 ships) for 14 years, what he didn't know about them just wasn't worth knowing.
Company policy was generally to have either the Chief or 2nd onboard at all times, however that could be relaxed in the case of this chap (although he did have his 2nds ticket), it was normally the Seniors who came to him for advice!

the ahem 'paint ' guy

Satanic Mechanic
1st May 2009, 08:47
Satanic Mechanic,
Would that have been the son of a well known C/E who followed his father into the company?

No he was an Indian - but I do know who you are talking about - good lad

James_C
1st May 2009, 12:23
the ahem 'paint ' guy

Correct. I believe even he's left now!

Fieldsy
1st May 2009, 12:31
Given the collective buttock clenching we've all done, perhaps we should enter the Merchant Navy in the Guinness Book of Records, as the fittest group of buttocks in the world?

Satanic Mechanic
1st May 2009, 12:50
Given the collective buttock clenching we've all done, perhaps we should enter the Merchant Navy in the Guinness Book of Records, as the fittest group of buttocks in the world?

Is it just me - or is that potentially one of the worst ideas I have ever heard(Jester)

Fieldsy
1st May 2009, 13:41
Is it just me - or is that potentially one of the worst ideas I have ever heard(Jester)


That was the whole point. Imagine us doing a photo shoot, similar to the one the WI ladies did for their calendar - a full line up of hairy ar5ed sailors!
Wouldn't be the first time - mind.
:sweat: