On Our Way…

Barr and I are amazed by how much we have learned and experienced in just one week on the Matson Manoa.  Working in the engine room every day, we have become quite familiar with it.  The main propulsion of the ship is a 12 cylinder diesel engine, but there is also an auxiliary boiler, waste heat boiler, three generators and a steam turbine-driven generator.  The first few days we went on morning rounds with the engineers.  Daily they must perform many tasks to maintain the machinery.  Using the sight glass on each tank, we checked the level and filled any low tanks.  On certain tanks, such as the feedwater tank for the auxiliary boiler, we checked for the presence of oil. Since the steam from the auxiliary boiler is used to heat oil tanks, oil may contaminate the water if there are any leaks.  Using the dip stick, we checked the amount of oil in each generator. We drained the water from the bottom of the fuel tanks, which settles out over time.  We also transferred oil from the storage tanks to the day tanks, took samples of the jacket water and fuel valve cooling water, and added ground walnut shells to each of the four turbochargers to knock soot off the rotors.

We didn’t end up leaving San Francisco until Wednesday; therefore, we are a day behind schedule.  During the departure, we were in the engine room to help prepare to leave port. These preparations included opening the starting air and fuel oil valves, and starting a second generator to take the load when shore power was disconnected.  The engineers follow a detailed check list each time they perform a major operation, such as leaving or entering port or changing between different fuel oils. After helping with some prep work, the chief engineer sent us up to the bridge to watch the ship leave San Francisco under the Golden Gate Bridge.  It was a perfect, sunny day and an amazing sight to see. We returned to the engine room, where after 24 nautical miles, we helped follow the procedure for changing from MGO (marine gas oil), which is 0.1% sulfur fuel and necessary in California waters, to 1% sulfur fuel.  Later that night, once we were 200 nautical miles offshore, the engineers changed to HFO (heavy fuel oil).

Golden Gate Bridge

On Thursday, we were out of the engine room for part of the day to work with the first mate. After the containers are loaded, it is necessary to check if each is in the correct location.  The first mate showed us how to check the numbers of the containers with the container plan.  She took us down into a cargo hold and out on deck.  We enjoyed the project because it was the first time we were able to explore the entire ship.  On Friday, she also taught us how to sound tanks to check their level.  She showed us a diagram with the locations of all the tanks.  While in her office, she also took the time to show us the computer program she uses to calculate ship stability.

Checking containers on deck
Checking containers on deck

On Friday, we experienced our first fire and abandon ship drills.  When the alarm rang, we went to our assigned muster stations.  After a head count, we all met at the stern of the ship where the first mate talked us through a mock fire in the steering gear room.  The first assistant engineer taught us how to take local control of the steering gear.  He let me steer the ship a few degrees starboard and port.

Towards the end of the trip, we also experienced fairly rough seas.  At the peak, the wind was blowing at 55 knots and the waves were 20 feet high.  This morning, as a result of the inclement weather, half of the bilge water tanks were alarming high levels.  We were in charge of opening and closing valves to empty them.  In the afternoon, we helped the engineers set up a small Wilden pump to transfer the last of the cylinder lube oil in the storage tank to the day tank. The engineers gave us booties and let us climb inside the two story oil tank.

Tomorrow we should be entering port around 1400. It has been a great week, but we can’t wait to get to Hawaii!

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