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The engine room


Down in the engine room

Once it took hundreds of men to keep the furnaces lit and the turbines turning to provide the power for a large liner. From chief engineer to the trimmers they worked in the grime and heat of the bowels of the ship shifting tonnes of coal or oil. Today with diesel fuel and advanced technology the engine rooms have fewer crew and some are even unmanned.

`Queen Mary` aft engine room

Magnifying glass`Queen Mary` aft engine room

Control of the engines

Just as there is a hierarchy on deck, so it is below in the engine room. The top man is the chief engineer. The chief`s status is usually recognised by pay which is somewhere between that of the master and the first officer. Then, depending on the size of the ship, there are second, third engineers and so on. Their primary responsibility is the main engines and the auxiliaries such as the generators, which provide electrical power to the ship.

Before the days of unmanned engine rooms, one of the engineers would be on watch at any one time. They would ensure that everything was running properly, by regularly checking instruments and also by feeling bearings to ensure they were not overheating. The engineer on watch would also be ready to alter the speed or direction of the engine if the order came from the bridge. The engineers would also carry out a programme of planned maintenance of the main engine, auxiliaries and other mechanical equipment such as winches.

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