Engine room near miss.

ian keyl
19th October 2008, 23:58
On the Benwyvis homeward bound 66 we had to move berth in Singapore to load palm and cocoanut oil ,the CH/ENG "plug tap" ( Jim watson) was on the bridge when the old man got the message we had to move there and then or loose the berth to a bluey ,so plug tap phoned the engine room and told them to box her up straight away and to phone the bridge as soon as it was done .
I had been on the bridge testing the steering gear etc when the ch/eng came up to the bridge to discuss some problem with the old man.

The awaited phone call came that they were ready and we were almost singled up as it was slack tide. Adam Addison told the pilot and orders were given for the tug to start to pull the stern off the quay.

The Eng/room phone rang with a frantic "plug tap" at the other end saying no way can we move, reason being ,they had boxed up the crank case doors and forgot the 2nd/eng was inside on a short ali ladder checking something on the bottom of the pistons ?. It was only the tapping that had been heard by a chinese donkeyman and he was shouting second still inside engine casing.
Its like a movie the good guy always survives. I cannot rember the seconds name John ----- thin straight black hair from Glasgow and well spoken .
Apparantly he was as white as a sheet and dripping wet with sweat. The lads soon knocked her up again and we moved soon after,but there was no risk assesment, court of inquery nor days of investigations , a good all round sound bollocking from top to bottom.

Rgds ian

20th October 2008, 20:45
What a frightening story Ian - it makes your flesh creep to think about being stuck in there knowing what is going to happen and that you can do nothing about it. What a luck escape!

20th October 2008, 21:14
Similar hairy experience when temporarily 'standing by' on the Tyne whilst awaiting arrival of British Power at Isle of Grain. Sent to the British Trust and, to keep myself busy, had volunteered to wire-lace the scavenge piston plate stud-nuts. The 2/E (Kinsella, I think) thought I was daft volunteering for this and said so with his usual ironic humour. It would not be too long before I was to find out he was smarter than the average.

There were people working inside a couple of the cylinders and the turning gear was locked out and customary warning sign hung in the normal fashion. Thus, armed with a small hammer, wire cutters, pliers and a couple of coils of shiny new copper wire, I entered into the scavenge space and started to lace the overhead fastenings. Just as I was putting the finishing touches to the job, I thought I felt a movement. Couldn't be, I thought, it couldn't happen, no one would/could turn the main engine with folk crawling all over it, and in the case of a visiting Scotsman, crawling around inside the increasingly confined scavenge space. There it was again, no question this time, the floor below me and the roof above me were in definite motion as they approached each other - with me in the middle. At this stage I was starting to think I should have gone away with Shell or Esso or anyone who didn't turn their engines when well-meaning volunteers were inside the tight scavenge space.

Without further ado, the small hand-tools and what was left of the copper wire were slung out the access door, quickly followed by the visiting Scotsman whose girth seemed to be increasing at the same rapid rate as the doorway was decreasing in size. It was impossible, just before taking off to raise Cain and Able, not to steal a glance at the newly vacated space, and to see the piston by this time having travelled sufficiently to prevent an exodus it was a sight that will always live with me.

No - never did find out who engaged the T/G and never did volunteer for any more jobs !

20th October 2008, 21:29
Ian's recollection from his Benwyvis days also puts me in mind of the many times when, having 'boxed up' a Desalination Plant shell after maintenance and inspection programmes, I used to do head-counts and various other checks to ensure no one was left inside. These Plants were cavernous inside, basically a large rectangular box, heavily compartmented, typically 70 metres long, 10 metres wide, and 6 metres high, so 'losing' someone inside was always a possibility. The checks and head-counts were all very well and functional, but what you could never be sure of, depending on what time of day or night you happened to be boxing up the Plant, was whether some local had sneaked in for a wee siesta out of the burning sun - not an uncommon event in the Middle East. And worse, they might ignore any warning shouts as that would divulge their errant ways ....

Never lost anyone yet, but had many sweaty nightmares about it. Each 'stage' had an armour-plated viewing window and my recurring nightmare was peering through the stage 'portholes' to observe brine levels and whether the circulate was starting to 'flash' .... and seeing a face on the inside looking out! Highly improbably insofar as by that stage of the start-up the shell would be under at least 28 inches of vacuum, but when were dreams ever a pragmatic affair?