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19th April, 0400 to 0500, 0830 to 1230, 1800 to 2400

ER Temp & Humidity: 26°C & 21%

Another bitsy day, starting off with a  Purifier control panel failure at 4am, resulting in an unwelcome wake-up call! The joys of being the duty engineer.

So after that, I slept through my alarm, hence an 0830 start instead of 0800. Oops.

Morning was spent mostly pottering around, I pumped sewage tank to minimum and burned some sludge. Arrival in Korean waters is scheduled for early morning, so this was the last chance to do such jobs and I prefer to always arrive in port with minimal sewage onboard!

Then back down again at 1800 to maintain watch. One brief steering gear test, and then 5.5 hours looking at this:

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Scintillating. So much so, I got bored and this happened instead!

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It's all fun and games at sea!

Phil

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Aside from the pump, we took some bunkers whilst waiting between loadings. And the analysis of these came back atrocious (technically within spec!!). Basically full of cat fines, which do nasty things

Well, decided to take you advice gentlemen, and am remaining onboard  Or in reality, I should have signed off tomorrow, however news this morning is that Singapore Authorities didn't grant permiss

Well, another few interesting days (well, actually a few days back, but internet has been as reliable as usual). Back at the end of April I had the Fresh Water Generator open for cleaning, and al

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On 4/18/2020 at 7:07 PM, JohnD said:

Phil has been properly questioning something that others have accepted

 

On 4/18/2020 at 7:28 PM, Nick Jones said:

The "we've always done it like this" effect applies to all walks of life.  Sometimes there are good reasons for it.  Others, not.  Then there are layers of systems/procedures/rituals evolved over time and changing technologies.  These are rarely efficient - often downright obstructive.

We call such things "normalisation of deviation". They often come about because previous engineers have been lazy and either not done something or chosen the "easy" route, and subsequent guys don't want to highlight the issue until eventually it gets accepted as the norm. Likely the misplaced tag is a mistake, other guys have probably seen it and altered the collection location, but never thought to mention it in handovers!

On 4/18/2020 at 7:28 PM, Nick Jones said:

So yes, worth questioning - but carefully.  All too easy to get labelled as a trouble-making heretic!

Me, a trouble-making heretic? I didn't realise you knew me so well Nick!!

You are right though, I am having to pick a careful path onboard here, particularly as there is so much that is simply wrong! Pick your battles, and it is quite surprising how much stuff can be "accidentally stumbled over". I have quite a list of those, they simply "break" at a convenient time with no backlash on anyone.

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20th April, 0800 to 1200, 1800 to 2400

ER Temp & Humidity: 27°C & 21%

Well, today we started discharging cargo, during my evening watch.

An eventful start, our IG system decided it didn't want to play ball, but we knuckled it down into submission and finally got everything stable.

No photos today however, I was too busy working! Now time for dinner (due to expanding waist line, I don't eat breakfast, only lunch and dinner. When on 6/6 watches I prefer to eat dinner at midnight, as this nicely splits the meals/working shift evenly), a short call home, and back to work in 5 hours time.

Phil

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On 4/19/2020 at 3:52 PM, thebrookster said:

You are right though, I am having to pick a careful path onboard here, particularly as there is so much that is simply wrong! Pick your battles, and it is quite surprising how much stuff can be "accidentally stumbled over". I have quite a list of those, they simply "break" at a convenient time with no backlash on anyone.

Seems you have the strategy sorted :smile:

'Tis hard to be someone who likes to do things right in the land of bodgit and scarper......

Bitch of a shift pattern indeed.

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21st April, 0600 to 1200, 1800 to 1830

ER Temp & Humidity: 26°C & 20%

This low humidity is starting to play merry buggery with my lips, (I guess I should qualify, low "relative" humidity) chap stick has come into use.

Today we finished cargo, somewhere around 1600. Cant be accurate on timing as I was asleep, as others have noted 6/6 watches are a hitch, fortunately for us they only last a day or so at a time. I finished the last ballast ops when I came back on shift, which only lasted 30 mins lol.

However, we still don't have any plans for the next cargo, so our instructions were to sail out and either anchor or drift. Apparently next cargo will be revealed tomorrow. However, in the mean time the weather turned nasty on is, so Port State Control stopped all pilotage and refused us permission to sail, so now we simply sit at the berth and wait.

Unfortunately, we are not allowed ashore due to this darn virus, so this definitely counts as a lost opportunity.

And finally, this is where the Cargo loading/discharging operations take place. Newer vessels this is mostly computerised, but we still have the old school version.

IMG_20200421_222947_copy_1843x870.thumb.jpg.bac802a1d1877da587e6b6fd26870280.jpg

Phil

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I wonder if your ship will be used for oil storage, so much oil and no one wants it..


I used too work (retired) for an oil field service company, Schlumberger, never seen the oil industry in such a bad way. Schlumberger has taken a 7 billion dollar hit, cut the dividends,  busy shutting sites down, laying people off and offering early retirement. Not sure it will survive but other service companies are in a worse state. In North America the producers are paying people to take the oil away, negative price per barrel. 
The problem in the UK is the dividends from the big companies such as BP and Shell help pay for peoples pensions... Hard times.

mike

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22nd/23rd April, 0600 to 1900 / 0600 to 1200, 1800 to 2400

ER Temp & Humidity: 26°C & 20%

Last two days are being combined, as a) they were mostly the same, and b) again internet was poor.

Yesterday started off by taking vibration readings on some pumps that had been highlighted previously as deteriorating, you may recall the M/E LO pump I started this thread with having its coupling sorted?

The other two pumps are the Boiler Water circulating pumps (they take water from water drum of main boiler, pass it through the Exhaust Gas Economiser and returns it to the steam drum of the main boiler. If the main engine is in use, it takes the excess heat from the exhaust gas and produces steam, thereby reducing fuel on the boiler).

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And as to be expected, I immediately spot one coupling wrongly assembled! 

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Duly sorted, and reminded again why I hate these particular pumps. I get got every bloody time!! (Bear in mind that the "water" is well over 100°C, under min 8 bar pressure!!)

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That aside, time for some more monthly routines, namely potable water testing (it doesn't do to poison everyone lol). 

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This went well until around 1530, and the phone went. All toilets on STBD side not working. Some days are simply just shitty days! Quickly diagnosed to be a blocked pipe, paper hand towels and toilet systems never go well together, irregardless of the type of system in question. This applies even more so on a 14yo system whose pipes in many places have choked up by more than 2/3's! Unfortunately, this job involved one "colourful" shower of yours truly, and a fair amount of working in stupid places.

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Anyway, we got it working, and then next morning it blocked again! So again a second day clearing pipes, interspersed with being allowed to finally sail.

Ohh, and the results have come back for the LO pump, I know John had asked what we look for with vibration so I thought I would show these. The first two pics are the "before" results, the second pair are the "after". All caused by the coupling rubbers being worn!

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We haven't got any load plans yet, but we have been told to head for USWC. So that is where we are headed, given the current climate who knows what will happen.

Phil

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6 hours ago, mpbarrett said:

I wonder if your ship will be used for oil storage, so much oil and no one wants it..

Simple answer, No.

I work for an Oil major, and the cargo we normally carry is our own. So to use us as a storage vessel will cost the company double, once in maintaining the usual ships costs, and then again if they do need a cargo moving as they would have charter someone else.

They normally prefer to keep us sailing, and charter others to store oil. Oddly enough, whilst oil price etc goes down, at times like these the charter price for a tanker goes up, as there are less tankers available which increases competition!

Phil

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Thanks, Phil!

I think I recognise the second type of chart, showing the harmonics in the vibration, in sveral graphs going back to the bginning of 2019, and the most recent with a lot less!

That's what I see with my crank pulley analyses, as below, but a lot less sharp than yours!

John

 

snipped pic.JPG

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24th April, 0600 to 1500, 1930 to 2030, 2100 to 2200

ER Temp & Humidity: 30°C & 20%

Well, a tiring day. Last nights sleep felt non-existent this morning, and I was not much more than a walking zombie for most of the day.

Not much happening, until after lunch when I tried to get to the bottom of why my General Service compressor was running non-stop. Normally it sees roughly 10 to 15 running hours a day, yet the last two days it has run 24/7!

After a couple of false starts thinking it was related to the Stop/Start switches, the ETO and myself quickly proved they were fine. Further watching of the pressure gauge showed that whenever the pressure got close to the cutoff point it suddenly dropped by about 1 bar. This had me scratching my head, before it dawned that this was remarkably similar to what happens when a safety relief valve lifts...........

Now, we don't have so many of these on this system, so a quick search later proved I had a safety valve failing. Ahah.

So, for the short term the quick answer is to reduce the stop setpoint. However, by this point my working hours were maxed out, so I had to knock off and rest, so I left the job in the hands of the 1/E.

Until half seven in the evening, when I start getting low pressure alarms. Turns out they decided to fiddle with pretty much everything possible, so instead of having one problem now I have 3 others on top off!! 1 hour wasted finding that, safe to say I am seriously unimpressed. Tomorrow's daily meeting might get a bit heated I suspect......

Phil

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Blimey, been a week since I last posted! Downside to crossing Pacific is poor internet (satellite) connection.

25th April to 1st May.

I shall split this period into two posts, each dealing with the two pieces of machinery I have been working on.

Fresh Water Generator. An essential piece of equipment that allows us to make potable water from seawater. We have storage capacity for just under 400 tonnes of fresh water, we consume approximately 10 tonnes (cubic metres) per day on normal usage. Cargo ops (where boilers/turbines are in full swing) can double that.

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We can load water at most ports when we are alongside, and sometimes we do this for domestic use, however the boilers demand pure distilled water and shore water tends to be too hard. We prefer not to take domestic water where possible, because generally the quality is crap!

The FWG we have is capable of producing up to 30 tonnes of distilled water per day, by taking waste heat from the Main Engine cooling system and boiling seawater in vacuum. Except ours was struggling to make 10 tonnes a day, and salt ppm was climbing.

So I opened it up. Usually this means the evaporator section is salted/scaled up. And it was! Not seen one this bad in a long time, so this set me to thinking. 

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So plate cleaning commenced.

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Given this was cleaned only a few months ago, something else must be not quite right. So I took the opportunity to install a pressure gauge before the ejector, and checked the ejector nozzles. One nozzle fine, the other was too big as per manual, but as it was working before I decided to leave it be, to minimise the changes made at any one time.

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Anyway, all plates back in and pressure tested, no leaks first time round, which was good. And upon starting ppm came flying down, and production was calculated to be approx 24 tonnes per day. Happy days, I never expect to get 30 tonnes out of this model, it is a known weak spot on this vessel class.

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However, this success was short-lived. Immediately after starting I noted that the ejector inlet pressure was 1 Bar lower than it should be, and after a few days running we again lost production. So again I stopped the plant, and pulled the ejector out again with the intention of replacing the nozzle that was wrongly sized. And discovered why the new spare had never been fitted, it was the wrong size! Fortunately this is why we keep a machine shop and a machinist onboard, such things can be rectified. 

Spacer ring (brass) being made.

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Spacer ring fitted to nozzle. (Old nozzle behind).

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This change improved production slightly, but frankly was not the change I expected! So glad an hour later I caused said machinist much amusement by "sounding" the engine room (a sounding tape is normally used on big tanks, it is simply a measuring tape with a weight on the end).

And some calculations. Ejector pump (at bottom of ER) has discharge pressure of 5.5 Bar. FWG is about 8.5 to 9 metres above, so pressure loss of roughly 1 Bar, therefore inlet to condenser plates expected to be about 4.5 bar. With the new gauge I installed, I know pressure after condenser (before the ejector) is 1.9 Bar.

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Hang on, a 2.6 Bar loss over a plate cooler?!?!?!? That ain't right. So looking like the next job will opening the condenser plates and cleaning those. Yeehaa.

Phil

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Fascinating, Phil!    No bull!

What will happen at the end of this voyage, or will you all continue to roam the Seas, like modern Flying Dutchmen, until the epidemic is declared over?   You could be proper Ancient Mariners by then!  Watch out for the Albatross!

John

Edited by JohnD
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Any other thinking engineers on board? Doesn’t seem like it....

Had a similar thing a few years ago involving sewage sludge centrifuges. 5 in a row, each with its own feed pump. It’s a big site.  One pump was running 2 Bar higher than the others. Obviously it was the pumps fault..... I spent a whole day on site fitting gauges up and down the pipe on that and two sister pumps. The numbers clearly showed the restriction was in the centrifuge. They didn’t believe me. Even the ones who watched me do it.....

I managed to persuade them to take the injection nozzle out. Their objection was it couldn’t be partially blocked and it wasn’t. I took a pic of it and pinged it to my mate at Alfa Laval...... ask them where they got it.... it’s not one of ours....

Ah ha.... now had the leverage needed to  root through their spares stocks and get one removed from another centrifuge.

Fake spares nozzle with the ID just 3mm less than the genuine. Trouble is, when you are pushing 100m3/h through a tube tapering down to 30mm, 3mm matters!

May have saved them a grand on the spares price, but it cost them way more in pump wear and extra power absorbed........ Ass was kicked - hard.

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3 hours ago, JohnD said:

Fascinating, Phil!    No bull!

What will happen at the end of this voyage, or will you all continue to roam the Seas, like modern Flying Dutchmen, until the epidemic is declared over?   You could be proper Ancient Mariners by then!  Watch out for the Albatross!

John

John,

On 13th March company placed a Moratorium on crew change (what on earth is it with this coronavirus bringing archaic terms back into use? This, and furloughed, both terms I don't think I had ever seen in uncommon use before that we now throw around like confetti!) that lasted until 30th April, or later as required.

News today is the moratorium is continuing until nations start opening borders again. (Well, until everyone other than the UK opens their borders, the UK is the only country worldwide with confirmed cases who did not impose limitations on the border at all!)

There are systems being put in place by the company,(who have laid their hands on testing kits, somehow) however they acknowledge that many countries still are not allowing movement. This despite strong moves by the IMO (UN subsidiary) to urge all countries to classify seafarers as "key" or "priority" workers.

I left home 7 weeks ago yesterday, so coming up to halfway through a standard contract. I am prepared (mentally) however to be away for 6 months or more potentially. Not exactly desirable, but infinitely preferable to being at home, where I would a) lose 1/3 of my salary (company have stated they will honour "standby pay" for all those at home) and b) be liable for large amounts of tax!

Phil

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1 hour ago, Nick Jones said:

Any other thinking engineers on board? Doesn’t seem like it....

Hmmm. Yes, and no. Chief has some knowledge, but is what you might kindly term a glass half empty type of guy. He does come down, and will assist if asked, but tends to stay away generally. Some chiefs are more hands on, some are less, but really he is the chief so we don't really want him poking around all the time.

1/E is the guy who is supposed to run the ER. Except ours is first trip, so very little experience. Also he has very good "book" knowledge, but is not as strong on the practical side. He is also bone idle, and I am informed by the other 2/E that he has always has been (they have sailed together before).

The other 2/E is a solid engineer, but not a problem solver. Routine maintenance and repairs etc are done without fuss, it's just not one of his particular skill strengths.

Whereas problems are my forte, I like getting my teeth into them. The routine stuff for me gets boring and monotonous. I guess at the end of the day, we all bring different skill sets to the table. This trip I seem to be the main troubleshooter, other trips you have two or three problem solvers.

1 hour ago, Nick Jones said:

May have saved them a grand on the spares price, but it cost them way more in pump wear and extra power absorbed........

We have always tended to steer away from non-oem spares for this very reason. However company is now starting to realise that this is not always cost effective, for example Alfa Laval will happily provide you bearings for their purifiers, wrapped in Alfa-Laval boxes. These cost twice as much as the same bearing from SKF etc, and in fact when you open wrapping you'll find it IS an SKF (or other main manufacturer) bearing!!

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Agree on the spares.  I’ll usually suggest to customers they find their own bearings nuts/bolts and lip seals etc. “Our” prices are just embarrassing.....

However, for parts made specifically by the equipment manufacturer (Like decanting centrifuge feed tubes!) are best OEM.

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It would be not beyond intelligence to design a way to change ship's crew without risking importing infection.

Three new crew members took off last week from Baikonur for the International Space Station.  Two Russians and an American. New ISS crew are always quarantined for two weeks, and this was considered sufficient this time, with extra attention to their supplies and meals in isolation.   The launch team also wore masks and kept away from the astronaughts/cosmonaughts, and their familes could not be present as normal.     They also omitted some other rituals associated with a launch, like peeing on the rear wheel of the crew bus, that Gagarin started!

Two week's quarantine ( in a hotel?) before crew board a new ship would be expensive, but not that expensive.

John

Edited by JohnD
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Rolling rolling rolling!

Not been as active recently, we are finishing tank washing and purging which required us to maintain 6/6 watches again, and of course at the same time we have caught the edge of a low pressure zone meaning we have developed a good roll. Not a massive one, but just enough to disturb the sleep. Which is exactly what you want when you are on sides...................

John - I think most companies are developing plans to manage crew changes, but everyone is hampered by a lack of available flights! Also, different countries have different quarantine rules, Korea (our last port) has a 2 week quarantine period for all people coming into the country. This requires the company to have at least two weeks notice that they are going there in advance, often this not achievable (I have done cargoes where port has changed only hours before).

Peter - many thanks for the article, and I shall investigate the good doctor when I am slightly more with it! Fortunately, my company are very good in this field and provide full medical support to us all, both for mental health and physical health.

Cheers,

Phil

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On the basis a picture is worth a thousand words, I took a few. 

However, prepare to underwhelmed, photos of rolling/rough sea never depict the actual effect you feel. We are rolling at the point where walking in a straight line presents some difficulty, probably in the region of 10 - 15° roll.

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Also, even from the onboard perspective, waves look deceptively small. The waves in this last pic are roughly 3.5 to 4 metres in height!

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Cheers,

Phil

IMG_20200506_202446_copy_1152x544.jpg

Edited by thebrookster
Fat Thumbs!!
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I was wondering about the crew change, UK is reportedly introducing a 2 week quarantine, whilst I see the point, for those of us who have to travel for work it gets extremely complicated (I don't travel nearly as much as you Phil).

As for the rolling, boak, never had sea legs...

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