Tips for learning a new engine room

Superyacht engine rooms come in all shapes and sizes. Some are small, some are large, some are easy to handle, whilst others can be an absolute nightmare. Getting to know your engine room takes time and patience but in the end your daily upkeep and operator ability of the room becomes natural and you can make your way through the darkest places in the bilge with your eyes closed.

Lets face it. Handovers are not always presented to you when you join a new program, but even when they are it can take 6 months to learn a new engine room. So what’s the best process for this? Are there some techniques for making that steep leaning curve just a little easier. Here are some easy steps to follow to help you get up to speed with learning a new engine room on your own. How do I know? I’ve been there many times myself!

ASK! – Even if you are a new Chief Engineer onboard, don’t be afraid to ask questions to your 2nd or 3rd comrade. The chances are that they know the engine room, don’t be afraid to be the one to ask questions.

MAP OUT YOUR PIPES – Follow your piping systems from one end to the other, system by system. Together, the pipes make up a confusing maze which is difficult to follow. Break this up into systems and learn one system, one at a time. Follow the pipes using your drawing so you can reference your systems and components

USE YOUR EQUIPMENT – Don’t be afraid to test your equipment. Run pumps, test bilge alarms, open and close valves. Get a feel of your equipment by using it regularly

USE YOUR PMS – Study the planned maintenance system, or implement a new one if it doesn’t exist. An equipment database and maintenance history and can tell a thousand stories on how your engine room feels and behaves. Get to know your engine room, study it’s behaviours. Figure out what it likes and what it doesn’t like.

READ MANUALS – You can have 20 years experience as an engineer. That doesn’t mean you can walk into any engine room and suddenly have the knowledge to effectively operate and maintain all the equipment. Read your manuals and understand your maintenance plan and safety plan.

CHECKLISTS & PROCEDURES – Use checklists and procedures on how to operate and maintain your equipment. Think of the next guy who is in your shoes. Ask yourself: Would I appreciate an engine room that has checklists and procedures in place?

These are just some basic tips for getting to know your engine room. Just remember, engineers are all part of the same family. We move from boat to boat and helping each other out during handovers and these transition stages can make a huge difference in how an engine room is operated, maintained and cared for. These beautiful rooms deserve it!

What tips do you have for getting to know your engine room?

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