The chief engineer of the ship is the head of the technical department of the ship. It is his duty to ensure that the engine room machinery works properly for a smooth voyage.
According to the Safety of life at sea (SOLAS) convention, it is the responsibility of the chief engineer to look after the safety of maritime professionals working in the engine room. The duties of the chief engineer are clearly mentioned in STCW 95 section A- III /2.
SOLAS states that the operation of the ship and its equipment should be properly taken care of by the chief engineer, satisfying all minimum standards of safety.
Duties of the chief engineer in both general and emergency conditions on the ship are:
1. Chief engineer should ensure that all the ship’s machinery and equipment are working in an efficient manner in order to support safe navigation of the ship.
2. He should carry out all his duties while complying with the rules and regulations laid down by the flag state administration, IMO, and port state authorities.
3. Frequent inspections of equipment dealing with ship and personal safety must be carried out by him at regular intervals of time
4. All items used for pollution prevention should be frequently checked and tried out for proper operating condition
5. Chief engineer should lay down a set of standing orders for each crew member under his command
6. The standing orders should be given in accordance with the routine maintenance schedule as laid down by the Planned Maintenance System (PMS), which is prescribed by the manufactures
7. He should see that details of every operation and activity should be properly maintained in log and record books, which state the compliance of the system.
8. Life-saving and fire preventing equipment should be checked a regular basis for their operating condition. (Operating mechanism and linkages should be inspected and lubricated frequently)
9. In order to minimize sources of fire, chief engineer must ensure that proper operation and maintenance of fuel and lubricating oil and purifying equipment is carried out to minimize leakage. In case there are leakages, they should be rectified at the earliest.
10. He should also make sure that the amount of waste oil that is collected should be as less as possible. The collected oil should be burnt in an incinerator or given to shore-based collecting facilities.
11. Chief engineer should ensure that the maintenance of incinerator is carried out as per the rules and regulations laid down by the management.
12. It is imperative of him to check that from the effluent mixture, only clean water is pumped out of the ship only through an oily water separator. (According to few company rules, only the chief engineer should handle the Oily water separator)
13. In order to make sure the maintenance and repair procedures are carried out properly, necessary machine spare should be made available in the ships store by filing a proper requisition at the right time.
14. It is the duty of the chief engineer to motivate his crew to develop a “safety first” attitude in his work.
15. Chief engineer also makes sure that his crew attends all shipboard emergency drills and safety meetings.
16. Each and every crew member should know how to tackle every kind of situation on the ship. The chief engineer must provide guidance to his crew during drills so that they know how to get out of an emergency situation safely in the minimum time possible.
17. While tackling an emergency situation, the Chief Engineer must follow the company guidelines and procedures for dealing with emergencies.
18. At the sight of an emergency, response time matters a lot. Therefore, the chief engineer must be able to guide his crew in minimum time to attend and rectify the task.
19. Chief engineer must have the knowledge of equipment such as fixed fire fighting installation, the operation of quick closing valve etc. in order to deal with extreme emergency situations.
20. He must also have the knowledge of shipboard emergency equipment response machinery panel, along with other important emergency machinery
21. During an emergency situation, the chief engineer must maintain proper communication with the master regarding the situation of emergency, as the ship’s master is in touch with the local authorities and the shipping office.
22. He must be co-operative with the master so that both deck and engine departments function towards bringing the emergency situation under control in the quickest possible time
23. Last but not the least, the chief engineer should maintain a proper conduct with his crew members and address their queries and requirements to the best of his abilities.