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Watchkeeping Duties for Marine Engineers

Updated on June 10, 2013

A watch keeper should always be aware of the normal working parameters of each and every machine on-board ship. The check points given below to be to ensure satisfactory operation of all machineries in engine room.

  • Regular checking inspection, and monitoring of all machinery parameters (system pressures, temperatures, settings, alarm conditions, levels of tanks). Any deviations from normal deviations to be checked and corrected. Above to be recorded hourly and mean value to be entered in the engine room log book.
  • Conditions of hull exterior, weather, loading of vessel should be borne in mind while comparing measured values of main engine parameters, in case of comparison with test bed/ sea trial values. Important parameters are exhaust temperatures, load index, scavenge air temperature and pressure, turbocharger speed, etc. Quality (calorific value) of fuel to be taken to account for efficiency calculations.

  • Check control valves in oil & water circuits for proper operation. Reset if required. In case of sudden drop, this may lead to alarm state and engine stoppage. Check temperature drop across all heat exchangers.
  • Always adjust valve settings so that there is no sudden change – the thermal gradient should be as slow and gradual as possible. FOR EXAMPLE IDEAL TEMPERATURE FOR SCAVENGE AIR COOLER IS 17 DEGREE CELSIUS BETWEEN SW INLET AND AIR OUTLET.
  • Drain the scavenge cooler frequently considering humidity. In case too much water is being drained, check whether it is seawater or freshwater. In the former case the cooler may be leaking. Air outlet temp should be above dew point, to prevent rusting.

  • Check drains of piston rod stuffing box for leaks. This will give an indication of the condition of stuffing box seal & scraper rings.
  • Check cylinder oil flow, adjust if required.
  • Feel crankcase doors frequently. Listen and familiarize normal crankcase sounds.
  • Drain day tank and settling tank off water and sludge frequently.
  • Check Fuel oil temperature at the tanks, centrifuges, fuel oil end heater outlet and adjust for correct values so that viscosity is maintained. Check steam flow in heating coils and tracing steam circuits. (Draining of trapped condensate).

  • Ensure that all cooling water circuit air vents are properly vented.
  • Check all filters for pressure drop. If found excessive, change over to stand by filter and clean.
  • Check all oil levels.
  • Check pressure drop across scavange air coolers (air and water sides).
  • Check all piping for leaks. Report and take necessary action.
  • Cam shaft, fuel pump and its drive to be checked.
  • Check jacket cooling water, piston cooling oil or water, nozzle cooling oil or water return for contamination – if found, report and take corrective action.
  • Feel main starting air pipe for heating, if found hot, engine to be stopped and faulty valve and its flame trap to be replaced.
  • Door gaskets, seals, etc. of all machinery to be checked for leaks.

  • Rain air bottles frequently
  • Check boiler water level, pressure, firing mechanism, feed tank and hot well levels. Blow the gauge glasses once in a day. Operate soot blowers once in a watch.
  • Carry out boiler and engine water tests as per standing orders
  • A/c and domestic fridge, all temperatures, pressures, levels, etc. to be checked. Check tightness of driving v-belts, tighten if required.
  • Check domestic freshwater and seawater hydrophore systems. Charge air if necessary.
  • Inspect steering flat, check pressures, leaks if any, oil tank and bilge levels, motor amperes.
  • All running pumps to check for noise, motor temperature and amperes, gland/seal leak, vibration, suction/discharge pressures.
  • Inspect centrifuges (leaks, sounds, oil level, motor amperes, vibration level, any outstanding alarm condition). Lo samples to analyse as per standing orders.

  • Record engine revolutions by counter readings, machinery running hours, calculate hours run after installation and last overhaul to be recorded. Arrival fuel oil and lube oil ROB(Reserve On-Board) to be recorded.
  • Water washing of turbocharger and chemical cleaning of air coolers as per second engineer's orders.
  • Sewage treatment plant functioning to be monitored and modified as per requirement.
  • Oily water separator operation, fuel oil transfer operation, bunkers, etc. to be entered in the oil record book.

Safety Devices Incorporated with Main Engine

Cylinder head relief valve

Relieves combustion chamber of excess combustion pressure.

Crankcase door relief valve

Relieves excess pressure in crankcase caused by hot-spot action.

Scavenge space relief valve

Relieves excess pressure in spaces caused by overheating, fire etc.

Fuel system relief valve

On manifold and fuel pumps, relieves excess pressure caused by cold oil etc.

Starting air line relief devices

Valves and/or bursting discs to prevent starting air line explosions.

Turning gear interlock

It does not allow the engine to be started while t/gear is engaged.

Running direction interlock

It does not allow the engine to be started while the telegraph and start air control are not in alignment.

Lube oil and Cooling water low pressure cutout

High temperature trips on various systems

Remote shut down from wheel house in case of vessel in peril

Main Engine over speed trip

Crankcase oil mist detector alarm in case of high mist density

Bearing, scavenge, exhaust, liner, temperature alarms

What will be your action on low lube oil pressure alarm from one of the three auxiliary engines?

See results


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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Hi Firoz

      Great hub and fabulous pics. Well done.


    • jabelufiroz profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from India

      Thank you ChitrangadaSharan.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      6 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Though I am not an engineer, everyone else in my family is--my husband and my children. You are doing a great job by educating the general people regarding the basics of engineering and engineers.

      Great hub and informative!

    • Quoteslover profile image

      Quotes Lover 

      6 years ago

      Great practicle knowledge, thanks for the information.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      You definitely live in a different world than I do. Thanks for sharing your experience and knowledge with us.

    • Haider Gahny profile image


      6 years ago from iq

      thanks for great post

    • jabelufiroz profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from India

      Thank you ocfireflies.

    • ocfireflies profile image


      6 years ago from North Carolina


      This hub is exceptionally presented. Not having a technical inclination, I would never survive. The fact that you do and then write about it as well demonstrate how incredible you are. Super Impressed!

      Best Always,

      ocfireflies aka Kim

    • jabelufiroz profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from India

      Thank you TOPTEN.

    • toptendeals profile image

      Jason Benedict 

      6 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida

      Nice hub Jabel

    • jabelufiroz profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from India

      The Marine Engineering and Research Institute, formerly known as the Directorate of Marine Engineering Training, is India's national institute for the training of marine engineers. It is India's oldest and best known marine engineering college.

      There are a number of institutes in India depends on your location.

    • ud1093 profile image


      6 years ago from ?

      which is the best college for marine engineering in India

    • roysyas profile image

      closed profile 

      6 years ago from Earth

      great knowledge you have here!

    • hmihajlo profile image


      6 years ago from Croatia

      Wow, you have superb hubs. Congratulations!

    • Pamela-anne profile image


      6 years ago from Miller Lake

      Wow most interesting you must have your head on straight for this job; this is not the type of work you want to make mistakes especially if you are out at sea all must run as smoothly as the sea will allow. Does this work allow you to travel to different parts of the world; and if so do you get time to do a bit of sight seeing? Thanks for sharing take care!

    • jabelufiroz profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from India

    • TDowling profile image

      Thomas Dowling 

      6 years ago from Florida

      Sorry for all the silly questions, I'm a curious sort:

      How big is your ship? I guess you and the other crew members live on the ship all the time. Do you go to shore often? Do you ever get a break from work? Ever get a vacation? Change ships?

      Maybe you've already discussed your shipboard working & living arrangements in another hub. If so, would you mind sending me a link? Thanks

    • jabelufiroz profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from India

      Of course these pictures are from my last ship.

      There are 3 watchkeeping officers, rotating from 0000-0400, 0400-0800, 0800-1200 . This repeats during the night also, applicable for engineers in engine room and deck officers on deck.

    • TDowling profile image

      Thomas Dowling 

      6 years ago from Florida

      WOW! That's some list of tasks and responsibilities.

      How many watch keepers are there on a ship?

      I imagine that there's a daytime and nighttime watch keeper on duty. Does this responsibility rotate around, like CQ (charge of quarters) in the Army?

      Did you take the photos in this hub on your ship?

    • jabelufiroz profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from India

      you're right...thanks.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      practical knowledge, right?

      good post.


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