Life at sea by Mrinal Jha, Engine Cadet (Part I)

Life at sea by Mrinal Jha, Engine Cadet (Part I)

This blog covers the life of an engine cadet onboard. Sit back, and enjoy the journey as Mrinal Jha walks you through his days.


Hello to all the readers and special greetings to all the new aspirants who are soon to become Engineer Cadets on board. This article is a part of the life at sea section. Through this article, I would like to give you an experience of a day in Engineer Cadet’s life on board. I hope it will be beneficial for everyone. So let’s begin.

The routine may differ slightly due to different policies adopted by various shipping companies and types of ships. So, for the sake of uniformity let us consider a vessel with an Unattended Machinery Space and sailing in the open sea without any critical job or operation going on board

UMS Ship

UMS Ship, Source: Internet, Courtesy: Marine Insight

So generally, an Unattended Machinery Space or a UMS Engine room (as it is popularly known as) is attended at 0800 Hours by the Ship’s Clock. By attending an Engine Room, I mean to say that this is the time when all the Engineer Officers and Engine Crew would report to Engine Room and will proceed for the day’s work. As an Engine Cadet, you will be definitely asked to be the first guy in Engine Room and change its state from UMS to Manned. Nothing to worry about here guys, because all you need to do is report 5 minutes before everyone and inform the Duty Officer on the bridge that you are manning the Engine Room and then just change the status on the control panel in the ECR. Make sure you record this time in Engine Room Log-book and the same time should correspond with the time mentioned in Deck Log Book too.

Once the Engine Room is attended and all Engineers have reported, a toolbox meeting is carried out by the Second Engineer. The idea of having a toolbox meeting is to discuss all the work for the day and divide the work equally among all for a judicial utilization of the Human Resource. So it will be here when you will actually come to know what all jobs you have to carry out that day and whom will you be assisting. Trust me guys, these 10-15 minutes of Tool Box Meeting are the most crucial minutes of your whole day. If you know what job you have to do, you can plan how to proceed with it. You can also plan what all help you will be needing and ask for the same from your Second Engineer. You can plan about the safety aspect of the particular job like what all lockouts you need to carry and whom do you require for the same. For example- Suppose you have been asked to carry out cleaning and painting job of the casing of a centrifugal pump, you will have to stop it and display a proper notice that it should not be operated meanwhile you are working on it. But if some other Engineer needs to operate the pump then you both can discuss it right then about what time he needs it and at what time you can work on it. Therefore please be attentive during the Toolbox Meeting and listen about all the jobs which have to be carried out that day.

Once the toolbox meeting is over, everyone will proceed for their respective morning routines before starting with their day jobs. As a cadet, your morning routine is quite simple but most important on which everyone else depends. There are basically two important tasks you have to carry out, first is to take the soundings of all the tanks in ER and record them in daily tank sounding chart and the second one is to record all the Engine room parameters like motor’s amperage, pump’s pressure, turbocharger’s differential pressure, etc. Here I would like to advise you two things. First is when you are taking all the readings and soundings then try to carry out an Engine Room round simultaneously. This will help you in knowing if there is any problem of any sort and you can report the same to your seniors. The second and very important point is to observe a trend of the soundings and readings you are taking. If you try to maintain a trend in your head you will know it automatically if there is an unacceptable deviation. For example, if the daily increase in the sounding of ER Bilge Tank is 10 cm and one particular day you find the rise to be 20 cm, you already know that there is some deviation from normalcy and the cause for the same must be found out. Trust me guys, if you do so and report to your seniors about the same then they will not only appreciate your efforts but will also be reflected in your final appraisal reports. Moreover, this will help you in retaining the values of various pressures and currents of different machineries which are often asked by the surveyors during your MEO Class 4 exams. Therefore few small steps in your daily job can help you later on during your examination.

Once you have completed your morning routines, about an hour and a half would have already passed and the time would be somewhere around 0930 hrs. Now you can proceed for the job which was given to you by the second engineer or you can proceed to assist one of the other engineers as required. Generally while assisting you would be asked to fetch the tools, spares, or carry out basic dismantling, cleaning, and assembling job. The most important point to understand here is that you can learn a lot about the machine you are working on while carrying out its cleaning. It is so because while you are cleaning a part or parts of a particular machine, you are actually touching and feeling the design. Now it’s your inquisitiveness that will help you to think that why is that particular part designed in that way and what function is it actually performing. It may happen that you don’t know the reason for the same but you can always try to find the answers in the manuals or ask your senior engineers. Trust me, if you make this a habit then you have already started the preparation for your MEO Class 4 exams.

Once you have engrossed yourself in your job, you will not even realize how time will pass and it would be 1000 Hrs. that is the morning coffee break time. I will discuss the routine from here in my next article. Stay Tuned!!

The Indian Mariners Team

Article by The Indian Mariners Team

Published 07 Jun 2022