Blackout Situation on a Ship: What are the First Steps that Should be Taken?

Blackout is one condition each and every mariner is familiar with and also afraid of. It is one situation everyone on the ship is terrified of because it brings the whole ship to a standstill. From the bridge to the engine room, from dining crew members to the sleeping ones, everyone is affected by a blackout.

If you are the one working in the engine room, then a blackout condition is your responsibility and you should be responsible for the same, sooner or later the blame is going to come on you.

In this article, we will learn what are the first things that need to be done in case of blackout conditions on a ship?

blackout ship
Representation image

Understanding Blackout Condition

Blackout condition is a scenario on a ship, wherein the main propulsion plant and associate machineries such as boiler, purifier and other auxiliaries stop operating due to failure of power generation system of the ship – Generator and alternator.

With technologies and automation, measures are provided to avoid such blackout situations by means of autoloading sharing system and auto standby system in which the generator set that is running in parallel or standby comes on load automatically if the running diesel generator fails.

What to Do in Case of a Blackout?

In case of Blackout following precautions and actions should be taken:

  • Never panic in such a situation, be calm and composed. An emergency generator will restore the power in no time.
  • Inform Officer on bridge briefly about the condition.
  • Call for manpower and inform the chief engineer.
  • If the main propulsion plant is running, bring the fuel lever to zero position.
  • Close the feed of the running purifier to avoid overflow and wastage of fuel.
  • If the auxiliary boiler was running, shut the main steam stop valve to maintain the steam pressure.
  • Find out the problem and reason for blackout and rectify the same.
  • Before starting the generator set, start the pre- lubrication priming pump if the supply for the same is given from the emergency generator; if not, then use a manual priming handle (provided in some generators).
  • Start the generator and take it on load. Then immediately start the main engine lube oil pump and main engine jacket water pump.
  • Reset breakers and start all the other required machinery and system. Reset breakers that are included in preferential tripping sequence. (Non-essential machinery).
  • It requires both skill and patience to tackle a situation like a blackout especially when the vessel is sailing or manoeuvring. However, the best way to tackle such situations is to be calm and composed; and to know your engine room and machinery very well in advance.

Disclaimer: The authors’ views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Marine Insight. Data and charts, if used, in the article have been sourced from available information and have not been authenticated by any statutory authority. The author and Marine Insight do not claim it to be accurate nor accept any responsibility for the same. The views constitute only the opinions and do not constitute any guidelines or recommendations on any course of action to be followed by the reader.

7 Comments

  1. Black out can lead to disaster especially when the sea is rough ,vessel manoeuvering in port in the near proximity of heavy traffic and shallow waters.In rough seas the cargo will start shifting,on container vessels, containers will fall overboard.Shifting of cargoes will cause vessel to capsize. In the vicinity of shipping traffic chances of collision with other ships and installations,grounding in shallow waters, collision with oil rigs platforms if near oilfiled.

    EACH ENGINE ROOM STAFF MUST BE THROUGHLY FAMILIAR WITH THE LAYOUT OF THE MACHINERY SPACE.DUTY ENGINEER MUST BE CALM AND REPORT BLACKOUT IMMEDIATELY TO THE BRIDGE AND CHIEF ENGINEER.THE OFFICER ON WATCH ON BRIDGE TO INFORM MASTER IMMEDIATELY AND MUST ALSO REMAIN CALM AND TAKE ALL NECCESSARY ACTION TO AVOID IMMEDIATE DANGER WITH THE HELP OF WHATEVER STEERAGE AVAILABLE.MUST COMPLY WITH EMERGENCY PROCEDURES.

    FREQUENT BLACKOUT DRILLS BY SHIPBOARD STAFF WILL BE OF GREAT ASSISTANCE IN TIMES OF REAL SITUATIONS

  2. REMEMBER ALL MARINE DISASTER LEAD TO LOSS OF LIFE,DAMAGE TO PROPERTY AND OIL POLLUTION.

    DURING WATCH KEEPING PLEASE EXCERCISE GREAT CAUTION .

    bon voyage !

  3. I am Electrical Engineer with more than 15 years experience aboard on various kind of ship;
    During my experience I meet a lot of engineers, which have role for maintenance Emergency. Generator ,but never visit Emcy generator room,only for drill.
    Yes ! this is a Very Big mistake for Safety First.
    When I asked them about Emcy generator ,the answer was”Is Electrical job”.
    And now we discuss about Blackout? Really IS VERY IMPORTANT for everyone to be familiar with Emergencies procedures.

  4. Can u explain action to be taken if fire in emergency generator room…note emergency generator not running

  5. I am having facing few event when the workbage was blackout, and as what we practise during ship drill, it was worth it..to exercise EDG prior to power back online…stay calm and focus, Yes we are in the dark, but CE and engine room man was put their best effort to make sure everyone stay in comfort. Great job for CE and ER for well trained and well responded.

  6. List out the equipment that will start with different sequential time delay when power is restored after a black out in an automated ship

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