Power Cuts might be scary for some people. But imagine what if there is a blackout on a ship.
Not only does it bring everything to a standstill, but all the pumps, propulsion systems, lights, etc., stop functioning.
Does that mean when a ship experiences a blackout, the crew has no control over it?
When the main power generation system fails, the ship experiences a blackout. Still, in no time, an emergency generator system kicks in, which provides emergency power to all the essential systems, including engine and bridge machinery.
A separate emergency switchboard is powered by an emergency generator and connected to all essential systems to supply power in case of a blackout.
There is also an independent battery backup for low voltage DC equipment like main navigation instruments, emergency lighting on the ship, GMDSS console, etc., so that these equipment are not affected by the blackout.
This helps the crew to take control of the ship and ensure it does not collide with another vessel or drift to unwanted territories.
This emergency power is not a long-term solution, and the crew needs to restore the main power as soon as possible.
In case the emergency power supply from the emergency generator does not work. The ship crew must be on their toes to bring the power supply back immediately. During a longer blackout, the ship can collide or ground, specifically during rough weather, as waves and weather are now controlling the ship.
Several issues may lead to vessel blackouts, of which human error is one reason.
Vessel stability is a critical issue when talking about ship safety. Since the vessel loses total control during a blackout, it’s possible to lose cargo at sea during rough weather and load shifting, which can lead to ship capsizing.
If the ship is in a busy channel or manoeuvring in or out of the port, a blackout situation can be dangerous, even if it happens for a few minutes, as the ship can collide with other ships in the traffic or with the port/ jetty itself.
A blackout when the ship is moored in port is considered the safest way to tackle it, as the ship is not on the move. However, it does hamper the cargo operation, which is unsuitable for business.
Therefore, to reduce these risks, quick recovery is the best practice in case a blackout happens. That is why the ship crew working in the engine room is advised not to panic in such a situation, and they need to know their way to essential areas even in darkness.
Have you dealt with any blackout situations ever? Let us know in the comments.
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.
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Zahra is an alumna of Miranda House, University of Delhi. She is an avid writer, possessing immaculate research and editing skills. Author of several academic papers, she has also worked as a freelance writer, producing many technical, creative and marketing pieces. A true aesthete at heart, she loves books a little more than anything else.
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