The worst engineer I encountered

jim garnett
4th October 2009, 02:00
The worst engineer
On arriving in engine room at start of watch I was informed by third engineer that he had not had been able to get any water in the gauge of the auxiliary boiler but it seemed alright as the pressure had not dropped !!!
Jim Garnett.

JoK
4th October 2009, 02:30
oh crap....did you take the watch or run?(EEK)

Doxfordman
4th October 2009, 03:23
Might have been a good idea to shut the burner down on the way out and head for the focsule??!

spongebob
4th October 2009, 05:56
Every boiler operator's nightmare, not knowing how much water still covers or is in the tubes.

Bob

Satanic Mechanic
4th October 2009, 06:08
they melted down one in SHI a couple of years ago - ignored the low level alarm and then by -passed the low low trip because they could still see a level in the gauge.




Bit of a shame the gauge glass cocks were shut really(EEK)

Billieboy
4th October 2009, 06:18
Was woken at 03.45 by the Engineer's' alarm one morning, hit the plates and crash started the standby feed pump. (Full Hydraulic until the steam came through). Got back up to the platform to see the steam disappear from the port boiler! The float control on the MP alternator/feed pump had jammed and filled the condenser. Lost four tubes, took a day and a half before we were back up on the step!

Doug Shaw
4th October 2009, 08:27
The worst engineer I met was a chief I had when I was 2/E. Had to report to him by the swimming pool every evening at five. Shortly before he paid off (he'd been onboard for months), we had an unexpected visit from a super. As the three of us left the chief's cabin, chiefy nudged me aside and whispered, "Where's the engine-room door?"

Actually, now that I think about it, he might have been the best chief I had.

On the topic of boilers: 3/E phoned at 7.30am while he was taking the log. We were tank cleaning. He said we'd used 4 tonnes of feed water, which was way over the norm. (Main engine was diesel.) At sea, we all have those moments that raise the hair on the back of the neck and this was one. I told the 3/E to shut the boiler down immediately. A short time later we were staring into the furnace, no longer cylindrical, with the roof nearly touching the floor in parts and still glowing cherry red. I don't mind telling you, that's not a nice thing to see before breakfast.

(For steam chappies, the cause was later found to be "steam-jacketing", and all boilers of that make were de-rated by twenty per cent.)

Regards
Doug

JoK
4th October 2009, 21:55
I went down on watch for the 8-12. The 4-8 engineer said to me that the port boiler gauge glass goes empty when blown down and fills up again over a period of time. I damm near passed out, he had been steaming a scotch marine boiler with a plugged gauge glass cock and didn't know the difference. I wasn't long pulling fires.
On another ship-I wasn't there, the Transport Canada examiner showed me the pictures when I went in to register my seatime, the fireman called the engineer and said there is water coming out the furnace. They yanked the firses, and opened the ashpit doors. The furnace had collapses into a kehole shape with the sides about 12" apart. Even the pictures were scarey.

steamer659
4th October 2009, 23:14
The best of the worst I recall was on an steam MSC Ro-Ro, the 3 A/E on watch seldom left the control room.. He tripped the operating lube oil pump off the line...domino effect after the main turbine tripped...Done damage to one boiler on this escapade. Same engineer has a large trash can bag of popcorn for him and his QMED every time they took over the watch....

spongebob
5th October 2009, 08:00
Doug and Jok, your descriptions of a collapsed boiler furnace tube brings to mind a catastrophic accident in the 50’s at a Bird’s Eye frozen food factory in NZ’s Hawkes Bay.

From memory it was an oil fired three pass dry back fire tube boiler of about 15,000 lbs/hr steaming capacity at 250 psig working pressure and was attended by a watch keeping fireman who through lack of training or understanding only tested the externally fitted Ronald Trist low water cut out by opening the drain cock to blow the water leg through.
Over time his failure to do a full cross check by manipulating the steam, water and drain isolating valves to blow though all passages allowed sludge to built up in the base of the float chamber.

I forget the exact sequence of events leading up to the accident but the likely scenario was that the boiler man left the boiler room for a period during which the feed pump failed and as the water level dropped the low water cut out float sat on the sludge before it could initiate a burner shut down.
As the boiler was on full fire and near full process load the water level dropped rapidly, the crown of the furnace tube became dry, overheated to a cherry red, then collapsed to form what you would describe as a large cow’s udder before the steel split asunder and perhaps 12 tons of boiler water flashed to atmosphere the force of its venting release blowing off the back door to cause the skid mounted boiler to become jet propelled to the extent that it ripped itself free from the steam main and auxiliary piping , punched a hole in the boiler house wall and sped across the factory yard where it struck down and killed a worker crossing the yard at the time before finally coming to rest against a parked Shell Oil Co road tanker.
This accident made headlines and caused the Inspecting authority, the NZ Marine Department, to make the fitting of Steam whistle LW alarms as first warning, to advocate the fitting of sequencing type control blow down valves and to generally tickle up the regulations

The UK inspecting Authority “British Engine” carried out an enquiry and published a very well explained and graphically illustrated report and every apprentice boilermaker, welder, electrician or fitter that served his time in our workshops was required to read this report and understand the importance of safe construction and maintenance of fired pressure vessels.

I witnessed a few similar accidents of this type over the years in the Industry, none were as disastrous but they mainly went to prove that you can never make any equipment totally idiot proof.
Today any of these boilers up to 6 MW capacity are built and operated to an unattended code and its multiple safeguards

John Cassels
5th October 2009, 08:16
Interesting post Bob.
Don't understand half of it but it still makes scary reading.

Billieboy
5th October 2009, 09:18
Unattended operation of boilers is OK as long as the automation is regularly inspected and maintained. The problem is that the regulations, just about everywhere where there are regulations, do NOT penalize the owner/operator of the boilers enough, when they fail to comply.

Every time i hear or read of a boiler failure I remember the New Building Maersk job in Hamburg. When flashing, preparing for initial steam test, a bucket of fuel oil leaked into a hot furnace and vapourised, a fault skipped the purge furnace cycle, an igniter sparked and 18 tons of water at 50 Bars vapourised, 24+ dead in the engine room.

Satanic Mechanic
5th October 2009, 09:44
Unattended operation of boilers is OK as liong as the automation is regulary inspected and maintained. The problem is that the regulations, just about everywhere where there are regulations, do NOT penalize the owner/operator of the boilers enough, when they fail to comply.

Every time i heare or read of a boiler failure I remember the New Building Maersk job in Hamburg. When flashig, preparing for initial steam test, a bucket of fuel oil leaked into a hot furnace and vapourised, a fault skipped the purge furnace cycle, an igniter sparked and 18 tons of water at 50 Bars vapourised, 24+ dead in the engine room.


The 3 things that set my teeth on edge are:

1. by passing trips
2. turning down purge timers
3. not testing alarms and trips in as close to a live condition as possible

I can't actually quote an amount but it must be massive proportion of accidents are caused by the above

jim garnett
6th October 2009, 11:04
Doug
Dont be too hard on poor old chiefs,they are only superannuated seonds.
Jim Garnett

eldersuk
6th October 2009, 21:52
When I saw the title of this thread I thought "Bloody hell, I've been rumbled."

Derek

Fieldsy
7th October 2009, 11:34
Not dangerous - but very unpleasant.

Joined a Regal Shipping bulker-come-car-carrier in Port Tewfik. We were heading for Safaga down the coast - a 100,000 ton US bulker was there with a gift of grain but couldn't enter the harbour. We were effectively going to serve as a 30,000 ton lighter to transfer the grain ashore.

The departing Chief Engineer told us the air conditioning was broken beyond repair but gave no details. We couldn't start it up as it needed charging with refrigerant and we only had enough to deal with any problems that might arise with the ship's fridges.

Safaga was hot, really hot, but we couldn't open any doors or portholes as the dust from the grain was pervasive, getting into every nook and cranny. Ten minutes in your bunk at night was sufficient for you mattress to be soaked through. The trick was to have a shower and then lie on your bed, on your towel, while still wet. The evaporation process would cool you a little and you hoped to drop off to sleep. Wouldn't be for long though, before you woke up soaked in sweat.

We were there for nearly 10 weeks - transferring grain a grab at a time was a long process!

After 8 weeks we'd had enough. We telexed the office in London and said if they didn't get us some gas to test the a/c system with we were leaving the ship (they'd constantly told us they couldn't get gas to us). They relented and told us to use the gas we had, which they'd replace by sending some down from Cairo.

Within half an hour of charging the system we'd found a leak, which we sealed, and the a/c worked fine. We'd had 8 weeks of hell because the Chief was either too stupid or too lazy to sortout the a/c. Very fortunate I never did another trip with Regal, as I'd have battered that chief if our paths had crossed.

Tmac1720
7th October 2009, 14:47
It is precisely for situations such as those described above that Harland and Bluff developed The Horizontal Steam Trap" (Jester)

Scary stuff right enought, especially to those of us who can understand the dangers of steam under pressure but out of control. (EEK)

Eddie Wallace
7th October 2009, 19:23
In all my 14 years at sea on deck I never realised just how dangerour an egine room was I think I would have slept on deck if I had known what went on down below. Some great stories I read every one and some great repairs carried out at sea.great stuff.

Peter B
8th October 2009, 02:34
Every time i hear or read of a boiler failure I remember the New Building Maersk job in Hamburg. When flashing, preparing for initial steam test, a bucket of fuel oil leaked into a hot furnace and vapourised, a fault skipped the purge furnace cycle, an igniter sparked and 18 tons of water at 50 Bars vapourised, 24+ dead in the engine room.
This accident happened on 9. January 1976 onboard the T/S Anders Maersk during construction at Blohm+Voss in Hamburg. In all there were 27 fatalities; 12 were found dead in the engine room, another 14 died within four days and one died after 27 days. Approx. 13 other escaped the engine room with minor or no injuries.
The released steam would have been approx. 283°C, which is the saturation temperature at the rated boiler pressure of 67 bar abs. (the superheated steam temperature of the plant was 513°C).
In the medical investigation report it was stated that the time-line of the steam expansion into the engine room is not clear. It is suggested that the expansion could have lasted minutes. It is also estimated that, despite rapid condensation on surfaces and expelling by the E/R fans, the temperature would have reached around 100°C, even in the peripheral areas of the engine room.
Search and rescue was initiated some 20 minutes after the explosion. By this time, 12 bodies were found dead.

Years ago I knew the wife of one of the engineers that was part of the Maersk new-building crew. I remember her telling that on the day of the accident (it was a friday) it was actually agreed between the Maersk crew and the yard that further boiler tests were to be postponed till monday. The Maersk crew signed off for the weekend and headed for Denmark in private cars. As rumour has it, apparently some "desk engineer" at the yard then decided that it would be a splendid idea to do a little rehearsal on his own!
Anyway, the accident happened shortly after the departure of the Maersk crew and was all over the news in Denmark hours before they reached home. As this was in the days before mobile phones became common, nobody were able to contact them, and for hours their loved ones feared the worst. As they hadn't had the car radios turned on, the crew knew nothing until they were met by tear-soaked wifes and kids.
Of course they were the lucky ones; I can not begin to imagine the pain of those directly involved in the accident.

I later served three monts of my apprentice time in the sister-ship T/S Albert Maersk in 1980, and I can assure you I have great respect for the power and dangers of steam!

http://www.springerlink.com/content/r28t04r0m4745280/
http://www.springerlink.com/content/r28t04r0m4745280/fulltext.pdf

JoK
8th October 2009, 02:45
I was called out in the middle of the night to a scotch marine boiler furnace, filled to the corrugation tops with bunker. What a frigging mess. We had to clean it out manually because we didn;t dare flash it off.
Another time, we were on the dock with 2 live boilers, one was online, the second one was banked. When I wandered down late at night I got looking at the boiler and realized the fire had been in the stbd wing every time I had been in the boiler room. I turned to the fireman and asked him if he was rotating his fires every 30 minutes. No, he said. Why?
Doesn't matter why, just do it, I said.
All kinds of fun things on there and her sister ship was even more interesting.

The longer this thread goes on, the more "fun" things I remember~

Billieboy
8th October 2009, 06:40
Peter B, I was on board the new building aft of the Anders, had finished for the week and was walking past the Anders gangway, to get to my car in the car park, when there was a, "thump", from the Anders. I thought that something had been dropped so got in the car and left for home. It was the next Monday that I heard of the accident. Most upsetting!

jim garnett
14th October 2009, 02:07
We had anew chief arrive who loved bringing the PH into the conversation(.this was a diesel ship so we somewhat ignorant of such terms)so I asked him what the PH was. HE replied authoratively;
"Its the log of the reciprocal of the hydrogen ion concentration"
What a smart fellow I thought;Iwas wrong he was a bit of a dill.However I never forgot, that explanation and retained it my useless information file for times when I wished to show my wisdom,when I didn't know what I was talking about.
Jim Garnett

Steve Hodges
29th October 2009, 17:30
Doug and Jok, your descriptions of a collapsed boiler furnace tube brings to mind a catastrophic accident in the 50’s at a Bird’s Eye frozen food factory in NZ’s Hawkes Bay.

From memory it was an oil fired three pass dry back fire tube boiler of about 15,000 lbs/hr steaming capacity at 250 psig working pressure and was attended by a watch keeping fireman who through lack of training or understanding only tested the externally fitted Ronald Trist low water cut out by opening the drain cock to blow the water leg through.
Over time his failure to do a full cross check by manipulating the steam, water and drain isolating valves to blow though all passages allowed sludge to built up in the base of the float chamber.

I forget the exact sequence of events leading up to the accident but the likely scenario was that the boiler man left the boiler room for a period during which the feed pump failed and as the water level dropped the low water cut out float sat on the sludge before it could initiate a burner shut down.
As the boiler was on full fire and near full process load the water level dropped rapidly, the crown of the furnace tube became dry, overheated to a cherry red, then collapsed to form what you would describe as a large cow’s udder before the steel split asunder and perhaps 12 tons of boiler water flashed to atmosphere the force of its venting release blowing off the back door to cause the skid mounted boiler to become jet propelled to the extent that it ripped itself free from the steam main and auxiliary piping , punched a hole in the boiler house wall and sped across the factory yard where it struck down and killed a worker crossing the yard at the time before finally coming to rest against a parked Shell Oil Co road tanker.
This accident made headlines and caused the Inspecting authority, the NZ Marine Department, to make the fitting of Steam whistle LW alarms as first warning, to advocate the fitting of sequencing type control blow down valves and to generally tickle up the regulations

The UK inspecting Authority “British Engine” carried out an enquiry and published a very well explained and graphically illustrated report and every apprentice boilermaker, welder, electrician or fitter that served his time in our workshops was required to read this report and understand the importance of safe construction and maintenance of fired pressure vessels.

I witnessed a few similar accidents of this type over the years in the Industry, none were as disastrous but they mainly went to prove that you can never make any equipment totally idiot proof.
Today any of these boilers up to 6 MW capacity are built and operated to an unattended code and its multiple safeguards

This horror story reminded me of my own personal brown-trouser incident. After leaving the sea I was working as engineer in a tannery, steam supplied by two small 3-pass package boilers at 120psi, fired with medium oil. One was a real antique, rated at 2,000lbs/hr, and had only one low-level float switch which doubled as alarm and cut out - the newer boiler had two separate switches. Gauges and low level alarms were - allegedly -tested every morning by the fitter that fired the boilers up before I arrived. One day I was coming back from lunch when I saw steam coming out of one of the chimney stacks. The fitters were all sitting around in the workshop which adjoined the boiler room reading their papers. I went through into the boilerroom - on the old boiler there was no water level, virtually no steam pressure, no alarm bells ringing, the burner was out and steam was coming from the furnace inspection port. I could not really comprehend what had happened at first, but when we swung the burner front back we found that the furnace tube had completely collapsed, closing up from three sides almost like a camera iris, till there was a hole only about the size of a grapefruit in the centre. The furnace tube had split for a short length along its longitudinal seam. I can't ever remember being quite so frightened - I just couldn't understand why there hadn't been an explosion.
The boiler surveyor and I eventually came to the conclusions that the feed control had failed ( it was not 100% reliable) while the boiler had continued on full fire, that the low level alarm/cut out switch had not operated ( this was undoubtedly true, although we could not make it malfunction again, and there was no sediment in the float chamber), that the furnace tube had then overheated and collapsed inwards, but that by the time it actually split there was virtually no water left in the boiler shell to flash off, just enough steam to snuff out the burner and blow up the chimney. A very, very lucky escape - and not a single alarm to trouble the blokes in the workshop next door. I don't think any of them really appreciated how close they had come to having the boiler crash through the wall and join them.
The boiler was scrapped and replaced, and, needless to say, I personally tested all the low-levels every day thereafter. Still gives me a cold feeling in the pit of my stomach, even twenty-odd years later.

Satanic Mechanic
30th October 2009, 00:16
Steve

An interesting one there and one in which you raise a very interesting point regarding the testing of alarms and trips. If I read you right the low level trip had failed but when you tried it, it functioned!!!! which raises a point I like to make from time to time regarding testing when I am feeling in the 'mood' and that is...............

Don't simulate a condition if you can do the test live

oh and as a wee add on

Having said the above - stop putting PT100's into temperature baths etc to test them - if they are not giving a really stupid readout then they are all right.


Thoughts folks?

eldersuk
30th October 2009, 00:44
I was on a ship just purchased second hand from a well known Norwegian company. The plant was a four cylinder NEM Doxford, a Cochrane oil fired boiler and a separate exhaust gas boiler in the base of the funnel.
We were running on the exhaust gas boiler for fuel oil heating, domestic uses etc.

It was noticed at about 4.30 a.m. that the steam pressure was starting to rise towards the max working press (120 psi). The usual routine was followed to reduce the exhaust to the boiler, but still the pressure rose.

By this time I was getting seriously worried as the pressure passed 120 psi and there was no sign of the safeties lifting and I found that the Weir's feed pumps would not operate. It was then I realised that, in fact, there was no steam getting out of the boiler. The boiler was immediately blown down and the oil fired boiler brought into use which behaved perfectly.

On reaching port the next day the main stop of the exhaust gas boiler was removed with some difficulty and it was found to be blocked with a white cement-like substance as was the steam pipe leading to the range.

The safety valves were opened up for inspection and it was found necessary to make drawing gear to pull them out of the seats.

Everything was eventually cleaned up and got working properly. Subsequent inspection of the boiler treatment log showed that the previous owner had been using several hundred times the recommended dosage of alkalinity control and it was this that had built up in the exhaust gas boiler.

It was thought that the previous crew had been testing water drawn from the oil fired boiler salinometer cock while steaming the exhaust gas boiler.

We got away with it that time, but I still get the shivers thinking about it.

Derek

Billieboy
30th October 2009, 07:34
Having said the above - stop putting PT100's into temperature baths etc to test them - if they are not giving a really stupid readout then they are all right.
Thoughts folks?

Was in charge of a refinery control room instrumentation start up inspection. My Greek mate Kostas was doing the electrical relay check out. I set all the thermocouples to run and off we went, after a few days the graphs were looking good and copying the movement of the Sun, except that where the Tc was supposed to be HOT it was logging 10C. There were approximately 1000 Tc's on the site, all were showing cold when they should be hot! Being a little shy on this job as it was my first start up, I checked and found that all thermocouples had been incorrectly marked on the + and - terminals. Two little fat Germans arrived with a screwdriver and two pots of paint and little brushes. took a fortnight to fix it.(EEK) (Thumb)

blurb10
14th November 2009, 16:20
Can anyone please furnish me with details of the Boiler explosion on board m.v. San Cirilo. I think it was in the mid l950's.
Best regards, Bob R.

ARRANMAN35
14th November 2009, 18:26
Many years ago whilst serving as 3/E on a T/E steamer, on coming down to take over the watch, the 4/E informed me that he could not keep the water out of the three boilers.
His remedy was to stop the feed pump and let the hotwell overflow, I instructed him to call the 2/E when he went up.
Removal of the main condenser door assissted by the 4/E revealed a fractured stay tube.
So much for being conversant with the system he was charged with looking after. Those were the days or were they????.

drrr
13th February 2010, 16:37
The most humorous eng. dept. screw up was relayed to me by the Pres. of MEBA (A US Union.). On a US Lines Ship. Steward dept. again clogged the garbage disposal.
Snakeing did'nt work, low press air did'nt clear the drain.
So they hooked up LP Steam...and nothing happened.
It's coffee time, when they returned...nothing happened.
It's the end of the day...so may as well leave the steam on overnight to cook the drain.
By morning the wax gaskets under every toilet on the ship had melted.
Kneel before the god of unintended consequences.

R58484956
14th February 2010, 14:31
Greetings drrr and welcome to the site of SN. Bon voyage.