Stoker to Engineer? - Ships Nostalgia
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Stoker to Engineer?

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  #1  
Old 23rd January 2012, 01:15
Engineers descendant Engineers descendant is offline  
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Stoker to Engineer?

Is it safe to say that you would have to start out as a ship's stoker before you could progress to an engineer? And if so, were there any other roles inbetween that were mandatory for moving up the career ladder?
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  #2  
Old 23rd January 2012, 10:30
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Varley Varley is offline   SN Supporter
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In Scandenavia it would be common (perhaps universal) for all to start at the most junior rank in the department.

In the Commonwealth it was more normal for deck officers to serve at sea as apprentice, latterly cadet, before elibale to become watch officer grade (in earlier times with or without certificate which now compulsory).

Engineers could serve an apprenticeship in a suitable industry ashore or afloat before eligable to serve as watch officer (again in earlier times certification for watch officer was not necessary as it now is).

I sailed with very few officerrs who had started "in the forecastle head" or in the stokehold (what the RN would call" hauled through the hawse pipe" or it was in my father's day).

David V
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  #3  
Old 23rd January 2012, 10:41
McCloggie McCloggie is offline  
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The term "Stoker" is confusing.

Yes, originally it meant the person who shovelled coal into the furnaces. In Royal Navy terms however the definition changed. As more specialist engineering types were needed, they became Artificers - skilled tradesmen. Today (well in my time anyway!) there are Artificers (who tend to be POs/CPOs) and Mechanicians - referred to as Stokers. The PO/CPO grade for stoker therefore manage the junior rates. The Cheif Engingineer on a small warship may well be a Chief Artificer. A good percentage of RN officers start as junior rates or Artificers to this day.

Merchant Navy wise I am not too sure about but I while not impossible I would have thought it difficult for an old style stoker - fireman - to become a qualified officer.

I am of course ready to be corected.

McC
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  #4  
Old 23rd January 2012, 11:12
G0SLP G0SLP is offline  
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I've sailed with several ER Ratings over the years who I could see had potential. Pointed them in the right direction, & they're now Certificated Engineer Officers themselves.
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  #5  
Old 23rd January 2012, 11:17
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My nephew was a stoker in the RAN but the rank vanished when the DDGs went... not sure what his next rank was but he wears a suit these days and works with the DoD in Canberra......
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  #6  
Old 23rd January 2012, 11:49
Jocko Jocko is offline  
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To qualify as a Ships Engineer in the UK you had to serve a five year apprenticeship in Heavy Engineering. Heavy engineering was working with engines with a crankshaft over 6 inches diameter. The apprenticeship would also include training on Lathes, Milling, Drilling and Shape machines. Welding and brazing was also a necessity.
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  #7  
Old 23rd January 2012, 12:15
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Ron Stringer Ron Stringer is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jocko View Post
To qualify as a Ships Engineer in the UK you had to serve a five year apprenticeship in Heavy Engineering. Heavy engineering was working with engines with a crankshaft over 6 inches diameter. The apprenticeship would also include training on Lathes, Milling, Drilling and Shape machines. Welding and brazing was also a necessity.
Sailed on a steam turbine ship in 1962/63 with a junior who had just served his time in a Dundee jute mill. Don't know how big the machines were in there but I doubt that they were of the dimensions that you quote. This suggests tha there must have been some alternative route to becoming an engineer.
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  #8  
Old 23rd January 2012, 12:32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jocko View Post
To qualify as a Ships Engineer in the UK you had to serve a five year apprenticeship in Heavy Engineering. Heavy engineering was working with engines with a crankshaft over 6 inches diameter. The apprenticeship would also include training on Lathes, Milling, Drilling and Shape machines. Welding and brazing was also a necessity.
Sailed with a few Motormen that went to college for the oow certificate.
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  #9  
Old 23rd January 2012, 13:24
surfaceblow surfaceblow is offline  
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In the US the unlicense ratings can take the license exam after three years sea time.

Joe
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  #10  
Old 23rd January 2012, 14:11
Jocko Jocko is offline  
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I never actually ever have seen any regulations categorizing an engineer, it`s just something we always heard about. In saying that I once sailed with a First Tripper from Wallsend. He had served his time in the shipyard but all he ever did was put up pipes. He had never seen an engine until he boarded his first ship.
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  #11  
Old 23rd January 2012, 14:33
Malky Glaister Malky Glaister is offline  
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I have gone from Chief Engineer to stoker!!

I look after a coal fired mill boiler and shovel quite a lot of coal!

I enjoy it too

regards Malky
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  #12  
Old 23rd January 2012, 15:39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Stringer View Post
Sailed on a steam turbine ship in 1962/63 with a junior who had just served his time in a Dundee jute mill. Don't know how big the machines were in there but I doubt that they were of the dimensions that you quote. This suggests tha there must have been some alternative route to becoming an engineer.
Ron ;
The jute mills had quite a big power plant ; boilers and full steam plant , perhaps thats where he worked .

My grandfather went the other way from Chief Engineeer at sea to Chief Engineer in a Jute Mill in Calcutta .
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  #13  
Old 23rd January 2012, 16:11
E.Martin E.Martin is offline  
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If I remember right if a Fireman or Stoker was doing the job as a Engineer and has no qualificatons he was known as a Shovel Engineer.
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  #14  
Old 23rd January 2012, 17:08
chadburn chadburn is offline  
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Mc C is more or less correct, the transition was based on the change of Machinery in the R.N. It was Stoker when the ships plant was mainly steam, then Stoker/ Mech with diesel's, then when the steam plant was reduced due to the R.N's love of the Gas Turbine it was Mechanician's.
Merchant Navy use to be, Time served Apprenticeship (preferably in a Shipyard/Repair Yard, however other industries were considered especially if they had steam plant and this was reflected in your pre seagoing grading.
If you had served your time in a ship repair/building yard you could go to sea at the age of 20.
I have not come across an individual who was a Fireman (under the UK Flag) and then became an Engineer (although I could not say it has never happened), other Maritime Nation's did have this career development route.
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  #15  
Old 23rd January 2012, 17:21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Stringer View Post
Sailed on a steam turbine ship in 1962/63 with a junior who had just served his time in a Dundee jute mill. Don't know how big the machines were in there but I doubt that they were of the dimensions that you quote. This suggests tha there must have been some alternative route to becoming an engineer.
an apprenticeship on shafts over 6" diameter gave you maximum remission of sea time for sitting your Second Class Certificate. Additional sea time was assessed by the Examiner of Engineers prior to starting your sea service. I sailed with a number of engineers that had served their time with aircraft companies and had to serve an additional 6 months sea time before sitting for their Certificate.

It is not impossible that some of the rollers on the looms had bearings of over 6" diameter.

Seem to recall that the crankshaft on some Ruston and Allen engines was fractionally over 6" diameter - could this be a way of ensuring that their apprentices could have a trouble free passage to sea if they wished.

Very little info available on the MCA website about how it is done now - I would think that an engineering apprentice going to sea is a very rare beast indeed - I sailed with an ex H&W apprentice who came to sea about 1996 - he was the first from H&W for about 20 years.
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  #16  
Old 23rd January 2012, 20:19
trawlermanpete trawlermanpete is offline  
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Joined the R.N.in 1965 as a stoker,finished up in 2005 as chief engineer on tugs,sat and passed my ticket in the 90's,thanks to Dave Henshaw of West Coast Towing.......Pete
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  #17  
Old 23rd January 2012, 20:29
colin moore colin moore is offline  
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i joined bp in 1972 as a junior engineer, having been time served in production engineering and tool design. after the usual three weeks induction course, when i joined my first ship i did not even know what a turbine looked like. my senior watchkeeper was an old stoker made good up to third eng at that time. you learned bloody fast. did five years steam, and then five years motor, before being made redundant. loved the motor ships the most as you could play with them to get peak performance.
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  #18  
Old 23rd January 2012, 21:32
Cutsplice Cutsplice is offline  
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Sailed with a few engineers who started as firemen/stokers/greasers etc, recall one who was C/E steam and motor who appeared to be a supreme C/E. One day at smoko he lost the 2/E who was a regular on the vessel when they were discussing engineroom matters so much so I left the smoko to avoid embarressing the 2nd. Considering the C/E had only been on board for a couple of weeks I was amazed by his familarity with the E/R. He must have had a great memory as he could name allsorts of pop groups and their individual members etc from the sixties and seventies plus allsorts of football information.
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Old 23rd January 2012, 22:25
jimg0nxx jimg0nxx is offline  
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I have sailed with a numbeer of engineers who came up from ratings. On a Cardiff tramp (Idwal Williams's mv Glynafon) one of the engineers had a very colourful background. He was an Estonian and had been a deck officer in the Soviet Navy during WW2. At the end of the war he and others hi-jacked their naval vessel and escaped west to Sweden. He eventually became an AB on British ships and later changed departments to engineroom, becoming a Donkeyman. From that position he went on to become an Engineer Officer, but due to a lack of English unable to become certificted.
I also sailed with several engineers who through some shipping companies encouragement and study leave, also went on to becoming certificated Engineer Officers from being ratings.

Jim
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  #20  
Old 24th January 2012, 00:16
Engineers descendant Engineers descendant is offline  
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Thank you all for the responses. I should have explained more in the first post that the reason for my question is because my great-great grandfather (a Merchant Navy seaman) is listed as a "Labourer" on his 1880 marriage certificate, a "Stoker" on a his wife's 1892 death certificate, but was named a "Chief Engineer" on his own death certificate in 1920. I am trying to piece together some sort of understanding of his career for family history records.
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  #21  
Old 24th January 2012, 01:37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Stringer View Post
Sailed on a steam turbine ship in 1962/63 with a junior who had just served his time in a Dundee jute mill. Don't know how big the machines were in there but I doubt that they were of the dimensions that you quote. This suggests tha there must have been some alternative route to becoming an engineer.
I sailed with one new junior engr. who was a motor mechanic. He had to serve extra sea time before he could go for 2/E cert..
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  #22  
Old 24th January 2012, 09:47
Jocko Jocko is offline  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by E.Martin View Post
If I remember right if a Fireman or Stoker was doing the job as a Engineer and has no qualificatons he was known as a Shovel Engineer.
What did those so called Shovel Engineers do in the event of a breakdown at sea????? Ring for the AA perhaps????
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  #23  
Old 24th January 2012, 11:08
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Originally Posted by Engineers descendant View Post
Thank you all for the responses. I should have explained more in the first post that the reason for my question is because my great-great grandfather (a Merchant Navy seaman) is listed as a "Labourer" on his 1880 marriage certificate, a "Stoker" on a his wife's 1892 death certificate, but was named a "Chief Engineer" on his own death certificate in 1920. I am trying to piece together some sort of understanding of his career for family history records.
I seem to recall that, prior to 1981 there was no requirement for an Officer or Master employed on a vessel trading exclusively between UK ports to have a certificate of competency (I assume that the R/O was excluded from this dispensation) Is it possible that your ancestor had worked his way up on a small coaster or tug (Clyde puffer maybe).

Have you any information as to the companies he was employed in? Or any record of his sea service and dates.
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  #24  
Old 24th January 2012, 13:10
bill mc guire bill mc guire is offline  
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can only speak for my time early 70s you had to have served your apprenticeship in heavy engineering then had a pre-sea sea grading with the board of trade before shipping companies would even consider you for employment as an engineer
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  #25  
Old 24th January 2012, 14:23
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Wink Pre-Sea Interview Grading Report

Quote:
Originally Posted by bill mc guire View Post
can only speak for my time early 70s you had to have served your apprenticeship in heavy engineering then had a pre-sea sea grading with the board of trade before shipping companies would even consider you for employment as an engineer
Same as the 60's Bill. Grading depended upon experience prior to joining the MN. See attached (the back of my grading cert 1961)
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