October 15. 2014 Deck machinery systems play a vital role in the world of shipping and whilst they are an invaluable ally, they also need to be treated with healthy respect and operated with safety always at the forefront of your mind.
Many of these machines are professionally maintained and serviced by specialists in hydraulics with marine and offshore experience and deck officers need to play their part, in avoiding some of the common mistakes associated with handling this equipment.
Take care with the bow thrusters
It is very important that the deck officers tasked with operating the bow thruster joy-stick should exercise care and caution to ensure that they never increase the pitch from minimum to maximum in one movement.
This should be done in increments as a sudden increase in current could be brought about by the rapid change in pitch, resulting in potential damage to the motor. This is because the BT system involves using a combination of high voltage and current which has to be handled with care and caution.
Another common mistake that should be avoided with the bow thruster, is the operator exceeding the advisable 90% maximum pitch. Operating at a higher pitch for a long duration will also cause potential issues with the machinery and should be avoided.
Deck maintenance procedures commonly include the regular use of welding equipment and there are several points to remember regarding welding and gas cutting.
You should check the state of the insulation of the welding cable and condition of the gas cables every time before use. Also check the surrounding of the hot work area, which will involve an inspection of fuel tank vent, oil tank and sounding pipe, amongst others. Finally and before starting the welding work, make sure that the gas cutting piping system is properly equipped with a flash back arrester in the line that precedes the gas bottles.
Proper use of the fire system
The fire system of a ship will generally be equipped with high capacity fire pumps that are able to provide water to the hydrants that are located in the deck and engine room.
These pumps are there for emergency use and therefore you need to ensure that they are never isolated at any point. Having said this, you do need to remember to isolate the fire pump and system when you are carrying out any form of maintenance on the line. Once maintenance has been completed, you need to remember that the drain of the fire line needs to be closed.
Avoiding anchor chain slippage
You need to always use the chain stopper on the anchor winch when it is not in operation and also whilst you are greasing the ship’s anchor parts.
Make sure that you never grease the friction washer or the brake lining as this will cause slippage of the anchor chain while stopping.
Correct use of the winch
A fundamental point to remember about winch operation is that being able to control the speed of any winch you are operating is absolutely essential from a safety point of view.
Best advice would be to consider the observation that it is always considered to be a better scenario when you use the reduction gear in preference to the brake. You will soon discover from a maintenance cost point of view, that overuse of the brake will almost inevitably lead to eventual damage to the lining of the brake drum.
A slow and steady approach to winch operation is considered to be the correct and best way to get the best life and performance out of your winch.
Remember that regular maintenance of your systems will often be rewarded with an improved performance and along with correct operation of the equipment, will help to keep safety as a priority at all times.
Archie Chifley is a retired shipyard worker of many years. He now likes to fish, but when the weather won't permit that, he likes to research and write about the shipyard industry. Look for his articles on a variety of industrial and marine blog sites.