John Barnes, former editor of Marine Engineers Review, gets an early view of the new International Chamber of Shipping Engine Room Procedures Guide for the IMarEST.
The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) is due to publish the Engine Room Procedures Guide later this month, aimed at marine engineer officers and ratings responsible for the operation and maintenance of engine rooms on merchant ships.
It is modelled on the organisation’s widely-used Bridge Procedures Guide, and ICS is hoping that the new Guide will enjoy a similar degree of recognition and authority as its long-standing sister publication.
Engine Room Procedures Guide for the engineering team
According to the introduction, the Guide is primarily intended to provide guidance for Chief Engineers and other members of the engineering team working on all types of ship, but it should also assist shipping companies and training institutions.
In a total of 13 chapters and a number of annexes across 150 pages, the Guide sets out routine engine room procedures and emergency checklists for use by the ship’s engineering team. It provides clear guidance on best practice approaches to operating and maintaining engine rooms, and all the equipment they contain, in a safe and environmentally responsible manner.
It embraces and promotes adherence to internationally-agreed standards and is intended to serve as a complement to regulations and recommendations adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
Nevertheless, it must be remembered that it is a general guide suitable for all manner of ships and shipping operations and as such cannot be too specific in the details that apply to any individual vessel or particular shipping company practices.
Good practice needs continual emphasis
It has always been the case that the best way of ensuring safe operations is repetition of the appropriate messages, and while many of the procedures outlined in this Guide are already in widespread use and may seem obvious to some experienced crews, feedback from ICS member national shipowner associations suggests that incidents still occur, even during routine procedures.
Two of the most tragic examples of this are the number of fatalities that have occurred during lifeboat testing and enclosed space entry.
When you consider an investigation into lifeboat deaths in 2001 by Britain's Marine Accident Investigation Branch found 15% of all deaths involving professional seafarers involved lifeboat drills, with 12 deaths over 10 years and 87 people injured, while for example five died on a cruise ship in 2013. Enclosed space entry deaths revealed in a report in June 2018 showed that between 1991 and 2018, at least 106 people lost their lives, and many more were seriously injured in 71 accidents.
If, by setting down basic procedures in a best practice guide, safety standards are improved, then this publication is a very welcome addition to the range of literature on the subject. By underpinning the IMO International Safety Management (ISM) Code, it supports the concept of continuous improvement.
Extensive scope and coverage
The extensive scope of coverage of the Guide can be judged by a selection of the chapter titles: Engineering Department Organisation; Safety of the Ship; Critical Operating Periods; Pollution Control; and Machinery Maintenance and Inspection Guidelines.
In the case of Chapter 12 this goes into more specific vessel guidelines covering oil, gas and chemical tankers, dynamic positioning ships, and passenger ships, while the annexes provide numerous checklists for a variety of procedures and situations.
Throughout a number of key messages are highlighted – and perhaps the most important is communications. This is seen as especially significant with crews who, as it points out, may speak different languages and come from different cultural backgrounds.
Use of the so-called ‘closed loop’ approach is recommended to ensure any instruction is fully understood by the recipient repeating it back to the person giving it. It is also important to have a clear command structure and the Guide lays out how this should be arranged and managed, detailing the role of each person in the chain of command.
The importance of safety and security
These two themes feature strongly for both the ship and the crew. It is vital that the smallest problem is reported to allow rectification before it becomes a major issue. Regular safety drills should be undertaken; records kept of a variety of important operational parameters; and everyone reminded about his or her role in an emergency.
There’s also the importance of the engine room watchkeeper regularly making the rounds of every area of the machinery space, using all the senses to detect any abnormalities. It has often been said that a human can detect a change in the operation of machinery using senses, especially hearing and smell, long before any electronic sensor will pick this up.
Pollution control, whether it be exhaust emissions, ballast water treatment, oily water separator, sewage treatment, or garbage disposal, are covered in some detail.
Interestingly, the chapter on machinery operations includes brief sections on steam turbine plant, now rarely found at sea for propulsion but still used in waste heat recovery systems and to drive cargo pumps on tankers, and gas turbines, mostly found today in naval vessels.
How to prepare for inspections
The last chapter deals with the preparations that need to be made prior to the many inspections a vessel is likely to face including those by class, port state control, charterers, P & I and other insurance surveyors, and those in accordance with the ISM Code. To make the process as smooth as possible it pays to be well prepared and the Guide provides guidance on this aspect too.
The final 40 pages of the Guide are an invaluable source of checklists for a range of onboard activities that affect the engine room and its staff.
These cover: Vessel equipment and operational procedures: manoeuvring; preparing for departure; steering gear systems; preparations for change of watch; preparation for unmanned machinery space (UMS); bunkering; fuel changeover; enclosed space entry; hot work; isolation/lock out-tag out; work on high voltage systems; and familiarisation.
There are also a number of emergency checklists: engine room fire; engine room flooding; grounding; scavenge space fire; economiser fire; oil mist in crankcase; and loss of power/blackout. These are particularly valuable as they provide critical assistance and information at a time when prompt response is essential.
An invaluable learning aid
This Guide is a most useful document and should be read, and kept for future referral, by all in the engine room, whether the most senior or the most junior who has just joined the industry.
Because of its broadly general coverage it’s likely to remain essential use for many years to come, but can’t of course cover everything.
Engine Room Procedures will be published by ICS around 29 June. You can pre-order a copy via its website or contact your local marine bookseller. At the time of writing (11 June) there were already thousands of pre-orders.
John Barnes is a graduate naval architect who has been writing about marine technology since 1971. He was the former editor of Marine Engineers Review (MER) and is a Fellow of the IMarEST and a Member of RINA.
ICS gratefully acknowledges the assistance of the following people, shipping companies and ICS member associations in contributing to the preparation of this Guide:
The project was headed by Sunil Krishnakumar, Senior Technical Advisor at the International Chamber of Shipping.
Fleet Chief Engineers at Maritime Quality Assurance (Carnival Corporation); Sivanand Ray (Pacific Basin); Adrian Mundin (UK Chamber of Shipping); Olaf Wulff (Mariscon); and Ranjit Nair (Campbell Shipping).
With special appreciation to Captain Wolfgang Hintzsche (German Shipowners’ Association) who sadly passed away just before this book was published and who made a significant contribution to the development of this new Guide, as well as other work and activities of ICS.