Nowadays, many reputed shipping companies do not provide electrical officers on board ships. Companies now rely on marine engineers to tackle electrical jobs and problems related to them.
Few important reasons for this trend are the ongoing cost-cutting process and also the minimum manning does not specifically include a requirement of an electrical officer.
Moreover, electrical is one of the major subjects in the syllabus of marine engineering (It mainly includes advance, operational and fault finding topics).
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Marine engineers are expected to handle electrical-related issues as part of their on board duties. Though several electrical jobs are to be carried out on board ship, there are a few important ones that need special attention.
Following are the most common electrical problems and jobs, which marine engineers must know about:
1. Operation of various electrical instruments: Any kind of electrical operation or maintenance job is to be carried out with the assistance of several other electrical instrument and tools such as multimeter, megger, clamp meter etc. A marine engineer must know the correct operating procedures to operate all these instruments and should also know how to interpret the readings.
2. Starter panel routine: The starter panel of every electrical system comprises of contacts which need regular maintenance for burnouts, breakage, deposits accumulation etc. The maintenance of the starter panel is a part of the planned maintenance job and all safety measures must be taken before performing the same. Marine engineers must know the right procedure for starter panel maintenance.
3. Insulation resistance: All wires and cables in the electrical system are provided with an insulation sheath. This cover may get damaged after a period of operation. If the insulation resistance reading is at a lower side, it may lead to short circuit, earth fault and equipment damage. Marine engineers must know how to maintain insulation resistance of wires and cables.
4. Earth fault finding: One of the most common problems in an electrical system is the earth fault. Finding an earth fault is an exhaustive job which requires utmost patience. A Marine Engineer should know the methods and instruments to find out the earth fault. Read more about earth fault finding here.
5. Motor overhauling: Electrical motors are present in abundance on ships. These motors drive several other machinery systems such as pumps, fans, purifiers etc. Maintenance of these motors is to be done as per the planned maintenance system and during the breakdown. The complete overhauling procedure of motors must be known by marine engineer including the safety procedures required. Learn more about motor overhauling here.
6. Bus Bar overhauling: This task is normally performed in the dry dock. The bus bar of the ship carries and distributes the power generated by the ship’s generator. It is important to know the correct isolating and maintenance procedures for bus bar while the ship is at normal voyage or out of water in dry dock. Learn more about bus bar overhauling here.
7. Battery Charging onboard: Batteries are used mainly for emergency power backup and for operating emergency LSA such as lifeboat. The charging and maintenance of the batteries have to be performed at regular interval of time and marine engineers bust be aware of this process. Learn more about battery charging here.
8. Adjusting the load sensor of mooring winch: The mooring winch is important machinery used for berthing a ship to the jetty. The immense load applied by the mooring ropes on the winch is handled in a safe limit by a load sensor. If the load exceeds the limits, the sensor will trip the mooring winch to safeguard the machine. A marine engineer must know the procedure to adjust the load sensor of a mooring winch. Learn how to adjust the load sensor of mooring winches here.
9. Shore Connection or AMP: The green revolution has introduced cold ironing or alternate marine power for dry docks (previously used only in dry dock) and in ports (now used in many ports especially for cruise ships). As the shore power parameters are slightly different i.e. voltage, frequency etc. ship engineers must know how to correctly connect the shore power to ship supply by using a transformer or frequency converter. Learn all safety procedures for shore connection in our dry dock ebook.
10. Engine Automation: Engine automation is an important aspect to be considered during maintenance in order to ensure the overall safety of the ship. Both main engine and ship’s generator are provided with several automation, alarms and trips. A marine engineer must know the ship automation system and troubleshooting related problems within a few days of joining the ship.
These are some of the important and most common electrical jobs marine engineers must know onboard ships. Do you know any other important point that must be added here? Let us know in the comments below.
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An ardent sailor and a techie, Anish Wankhede has voyaged on a number of ships as a marine engineer officer. He loves multitasking, networking, and troubleshooting. He is the one behind the unique creativity and aesthetics at Marine Insight.