The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has published a first <i>Engine Room Procedures Guide</i>The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has published a first Engine Room Procedures Guide

The International Chamber of Shipping has published a first Engine Room Procedures Guide modelled on its globally recognised Bridge Procedures Guide

The new guidance is based on decades of operational experience onboard different types and sizes of ships, and many of the procedures outlined are already in widespread use. However, feedback from International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) member shipowner associations suggests that incidents still occur, even during routine procedures.

Sunil Krishnakumar, Chief Engineer, project leader for the Guide and Senior Technical Adviser for the ICS, says extensive knowledge and familiarity can lead to a loss of respect for strictly following procedures and the unacceptable development of complacency. “This can be a particular danger for routine engine room activities,” he says. “This guide should help in mitigating this risk, as it reinforces the basics of engine room operation and contains examples of how exhaustive checklists can be developed and used for this purpose.”

While the guide acknowledges recent changes in engine room design, operation and maintenance, it is crucial to understand that the risks of breakdowns, fires and personal injury remain, he says.

“The type and size of engineering teams on ships differ from ship type to ship type and even from company to company. This would mean that in some cases, ships would not be able to promote some of the best practices employed in other sectors due to having a relatively smaller engineering team. The recommendations in this guide have been formulated keeping this possible issue in mind.”

The guide provides details on best practice for operation and maintenance of conventional large slow speed two stroke engines, medium speed four stroke engines and gas/steam turbines. The guide also addresses both direct and indirect propulsion and high voltage electric propulsion systems.

Krishnakumar says that regardless of how automated an engine room is, the importance of ensuring basic watchkeeping principles like situational awareness and closed loop communication remains vital. For example, in a highly automated engine control room watchkeepers could get distracted by the number of notifications and alarms being displayed, many of which might be for information only. In these circumstances, the watchkeeper should be extra vigilant not to miss any notifications that require immediate action.

The guide devotes attention to the operation of exhaust gas cleaning systems (EGCS) and includes guidelines on filling out all the required documents to demonstrate continuous compliance as well as comprehensive guidance on actions to be taken following a malfunction. “Taking into account the regulatory complexities associated with these systems, we have also included a step by step flowchart representation of actions following an EGCS malfunction,” says Krishnakumar.

The publication provides guidance on safe operation and maintenance of different types of electrical power plants and their components including alternators, distribution systems and emergency power systems. It also includes guidance on high voltage safety and Electrical Permit to Work, stating, for example, that: For any electrical maintenance the acronym DIE is always useful: Disconnect, Isolate, Earth.

In addition to guidance on prevention, preparedness and response to fires, flooding and loss of control of navigation and ship’s systems, Annex C of the guide provides emergency checklists for each of these scenarios. The guide recommends: “A proactive safety culture should be established and maintained. The Chief Engineer should take steps to ensure that everyone in the engineering team clearly understands that safety is always the top priority. Only then can there be a robust structure and systems to avoid fire, flooding or loss of control of the ship.”  

The guide contains a section on personal electronic devices and cyber security. Practical recommendations such as precautions in accessing emails and using the internet, never plugging personal USBs into engine room control systems and not revealing username/passwords to unauthorised third parties are included.

In the best practice guidance for fuel management onboard (from bunkering, through the processing stages, up until it enters the combustion units for use), there is an extensive sample checklist on fuel changeover. However Krishnakumar says best practice for ships using alternative fuels such as LNG and methanol is something that he envisages as sections for future revisions of the guide once sufficient experience has been gained.

“This is a guide that is first of its kind. So we do anticipate feedback on suitability and sufficiency,” he says.

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