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Blackout Drill Onboard ship And How To Conduct An Effective Drill 

Blackout onboard ship

Blackout onboard ship can lead to big disaster manly while at sea passage and undergoing rough weather or during ship manoeuvring in port at propinquity of heavy traffic, shallow and break waters.

Black out onboard vessel is when she loses total power generation system, which leads to stoppage of all pumps, propulsion system, lights, etc. In such case, they ship has no control till the recovery of power. No one pray for such incident, but sometimes it happens either due to human error, equipment malfunction, or due to bad fuel supplied to run the auxiliary engines.

What cause ship to go block out?

As mentioned above, there are several issues that may lead to vessel black out, some of the major ones are as follows:

  • Human error: manly marine engineers might understand this better, it could be by shutting down wrong fuel, water or air valve, which is in connection with the running machinery. In Morden engines, safety trips are attached to protect the engine from explosion, parts damage, and that of the operators safety. When cooling water valve shut for example, the engine temperature rises very fast and once alarm sounds and no action taken, next will be shutdown.
  • Equipment failure: working mechanism can’t speak nor repair itself. Therefore attention need to be paid to all running machineries to note down when wrong sounds or miss behaviour starts. In such case failure maybe be prevented and black out will have it distance. Example of equipments that may cause black out are fuel or lubrication oil pump stoppage, fuel regulator (governor) malfunction, circuit breaker malfunction, etc.
  • Bad fuel supplied to ship: ship bunkering is a thing to pay good attention toward. Sometimes people who supply fuel wish to make more profit, but forgot the difficulty they are to create to the ship engineers and the crew onboard. When a fuel contain water or mix with wrong chemical, all injection valves and fuel pump may get damage, causing the engine to stop.
Ship blackout restoration process
Blackout and recovery mode by James

What are the possible casualties to experience if ship goes black out at sea?

Vessel stability is one of the import issue to consider when we talk about sailing. Since she loses total control during black out, it’s very possible ; to lost cargo at sea during rough weather (storms), load shifting which can lead to ship capsize, collision to rocks or with another ship, grounding and sinking, etc.

With all of the above mentioned, they are all pointing to life and property lost risks. Therefore to reduce these risks, quick recovery is the best practice in case blackout happens. That is why ship crews mostly engine room, need to know there way to an important areas even darkness.

Do we conduct blackout recovery drills onboard ship?

In the oldest days, blackout drills are conducted to have crews get familiar with the passage ways in darkness. But recently, there’s no law enforcement that mandated such drill. But in fire drills, ship familiarisation(when newly join the vessel),safety equipment and usage drills, all crews can get familiar with locations and get ready for quick responses during such emergency. Personally, when taking crews manly engineers on ship or engine room familiarisation, it’s important to let them know more about quick recovery system for the ship power peradventure it happens during first 7 days onboard or contract time.

What are the things to note while under going engine room familiarisation?

When an engine room team newly join the ship, the handover routine is being carried out. But since the fellow (new comer) is new to the environment or system, about 60% of what his or her mate will show maybe remembered while 40% might be forgotten. Many marine companies do have some policy regarding ship familiarisation, ranging from 7-14 days onboard. After the completion of this period, a complete checklist will be given to the newly join crew to sign and signature of the trainer will also be taken, then a copy sent to the head office with one copy file onboard.

During the engine room familiarisation, it’s important to note firstly exits, why? because it links to your personal safety, and that of the ship. Secondly, location of engine room equipments and accessories. Thirdly, operations of engine room machinery and tools. On like fire triangle (fuel, oxygen, and ignition), these three points ( exit, location and operations) are the major focusing areas for a successful engine room familiarisation.

Once all of the above mentioned observed, it’s easier to solve any problems that may arise during your watch without any panic. However, there are other things associated with black out problems which also has to be noted.

Action to take when your ship goes black

  • Firstly do not panic, emergency generator will start automatically and give light in few minutes. But if fails to start in 0.5 seconds -2 minutes ( depends on set timing) then something is wrong, proceed to next steps.
  • Stop the running engine (if engine is still running) because no cooling will be there, and may get gaskets damage.
  • Call other engineers for assistance and inform either Chief engineer or 2nd engineer.
  • Proceed to emergency generator room and start manually (if not started automatically), then take on load, once power comes up, keep the power switch to auto.
  • Start emergency fuel pump to supply fuel to the main auxiliary engine, check fuel pressure to make sure all is normal.
  • Start any of the available auxiliary engine and proceed to power control panel.
  • Close the main circuit breaker by pressing a push button or key, to get the main power supply connected. Don’t worry there is a provision for auto disconnecting MCB (main circuit breaker) from ECB(emergency circuit breaker).
  • Now your main power will be in, quickly reset all alarms and start all cooling pumps, boiler feed pump (if any) and air supply vent fan.
  • Stop the emergency generator manually and keep the button on auto.
  • Start main auxiliary engine fuel pumps and change over back from emergency fuel supply to main.
  • Check all parameters and take rounds
  • Now, if your main propulsion engine was running, restart again by following main engine starting procedure.
  • Welcome back 🙂

Noted, all of the above has to be done as fast as possible. Since boilers are already pressurised and required feed water, main propulsion in stopped without proper cooling,etc. It’s important to reach to there demands as soon as possible.

Hopefully this article helps you. Work safe and share with friends whom it might be useful. Be the first to read from us, don’t forget to subscribe below for more articles and updates.

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  1. Pingback: Ship Emergency Generator Load Testing Methods - Marine And Offshore Insight

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