The Key to Success for Engineers – Part 2

NL 52 Continuation from NL 51 The Keys to Success for Engineers – Part 2


Mahendra Singh
Chief Engineer Mahendra Singh

Key to success as an Engineer

We also need to look after the steering gear, windlass, mooring winches, the hatch hydraulics and deck air compressor. Keeping hydraulic system oil in good condition is the key. Clean filters regularly and see that the chief engineer will send oil samples for analysis once in six months. When the reports come, you should also study and understand them. At every bunkering, you will participate in taking samples of the fuel oil and give them to senior engineer for sending to laboratory. One sample, the MARPOL sample, you will preserve on board safely and learn about this more from your watch incharge.

Learning from our seniors key to success

When I came to sea there were hardly any marine colleges but we learnt from seniors, the fitters and the Bosun and I will advise you to do the same. Fuel oil bunkering is a subject in itself. I have written separately on it and you can read it.

Together with the Bosun, you will learn how to receive and store the provisions, stores, lubricating oil drums and how and into which tanks to empty them. As your capabilities get recognised, you will be entrusted with operating the provision crane. Quite a few accidents have happened involving handling the steel pipes (when they swing while lifting) so guide and control them using ropes. Do not put your fingers into the ends of the pipes in trying to adjust them. Good suppliers cap both ends.

Staying away from drugs and controlled alcohol use also key to success

You must keep away from DRUGS – totally. This stuff is addictive and very harmful to health. Also, if you are caught by customs or health officers, your seamen’s identity document will be cancelled. Alcohol is not that bad provided restraint and discipline is maintained and enjoyed only occasionally. Do not get habituated to alcohol. Avoid drinking too much cold water. A multivitamin tablet a day will help a lot. Drink two to three litres of water every day and avoid too much oily and spicy food.

Having good conduct and and behavior also key to success

Your career graph will steadily go upward if you keep your conduct and behaviour good and have a helping attitude on board. Keep your normal and working clothes clean and follow best practices involving use of laundry and the drying room.

Reading, e-content and discussing the content key to success

These days there is lot of material available on the internet and you can learn from there, in addition to the CBT provided by your company. There are a lot of drawings and instruction manuals on board. Develop a habit of reading them and discussing with your seniors, subjects like how to remove and fit an exhaust valve, the fuel injectors, etc. There are work sheets with the applicable tools indicated on them.

Correct use of tools and personal protective equipment (PPE) key to success

The correct use of correct tools and wearing PP equipment while using or assisting in use of hydraulic tools is something that will remain important throughout our career. There will be improvements in tools and systems and we will keep on learning; for example ultrasonic device for cleaning of multidisc type

Proper Toolbox meetings key to success filters (fuel filters) etc. Earlier we used to slacken and tighten cylinder head nuts manually, then came pneumatic tools and then hydraulic. Therefore, we must adapt accordingly. Tool box meetings are held before taking up any major job and it is here that the account of tools to be used is taken and key to success. What are the fastening devices; what lifting tools will be used; the engine room crane and the length of slings to be used.

Proper calibration and maintenance key to success

The engineers are always mindful of getting the slings, shackles and hydraulic tool pipes but your contribution in this matter will be valuable. Calibration of torque spanners and their correct use is important. Taking safety measures while using a drilling machine, grinding machine and lathe machine and efficiency of their emergency stops are vital for safety, especially of your eyes. All these are not to be learnt in a few days or one voyage but we now know the path to follow.

Reclaiming the lost art of tracing pipes in the Engine Room key to success

These days with reduced manning and short port stays, tracing of pipe lines is being neglected but even then it’s importance is vital to understand the engine room properly. On many ships we now have a vacuum toilet system and we must take utmost care not to throw tooth picks or any such extraneous item into them. In case of malfunction, it will only inconvenience us.

Don’t think you’re an expert because you’ve been sent to many courses 

There are different types of ships, general cargo, containers, bulk carriers, oil tankers, chemical tankers and gas carriers, etc. Many more different types and improved versions will inevitably come. There are basic and specialised courses which are run by shipping companies and marine training centres and you will be sent there by your company for further and onward training. But again the warning, don’t think that you have become an expert merely by attending a course.

Take care of your health key to success

There are some very simple precautions. While going ashore, you may take a shower and your hair may be wet and, in cold countries if you move out bare headed, in all probability you may catch cold so carry a woollen cap with you. Seek advice of your seniors on board. In the old days we learnt onboard key to success When I came to sea, there were no computers, no colleges and no CBTs. Everything learnt on board, so the same for you.

The emphasis on Safe Working Practices keys to success

Safe working practices are always emphasised and insurance companies have come out with very good posters, so you see, everyone contributes towards safety. Situational awareness and alertness is very much desirable. Don’t get worried thinking how I will learn all this, learning is a life long process. As I write this for you, I am myself still not aware of quite a few things. It will take time but effort must be maintained. Bon Voyage

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