In this episode I’ll be showing you how to start up a ship’s main engine. In general – ships are commonly gauged according to their gross registered tonnage. That being said, the engine power needed to propel the ship is more or less proportional with this particular tonnage. The values range from about 750 kilowatts for smaller ships up to around 35,000 to 40,000 kilowatts for very large ships. Our ship’s main engine is a two-stroke MAN BMW diesel engine with a rated capacity of around 10,000 kilowatts. Sufficient to propel a ship with a gross tonnage of about 35,000. Now, starting a large ship’s engine is not as simple as starting a car’s engine wherein you just need to turn the key in the ignition. Whenever a ship prepares to leave port the engine is given at least a one hour notice before the main engine is put on standby. This gives the engineers sufficient time to prepare the ancillary systems needed for main engine operation. This means a few more machines will be started – so the first thing to do is start an extra generator to provide sufficient electric power for the increased load. There are four systems required for main engine operation: lubrication, fuel oil, cooling water and starting air system. For lubrication, fuel, and cooling water systems they are normally kept running even in port – so we just need to verify if the parameters are within optimal limits. We also need to do a pre-lubrication of the main bearings by engaging the turning gear and using it to slowly turn the engine for about 30 minutes. During this time the pistons and cylinder liners are also lubricated by the injection of cylinder lube oil while the engine is being turned. The means of kick-starting the engine is by compressed air. So we need to charge up the air tanks to pressure of about 30 bar by starting the air compressors. Maintaining this air pressure will ensure that the main engine can be started and stopped as needed while the ship is maneuvering. After everything has been prepared and the bridge gives the all-clear signal – it’s time to test the engine. We need to start the auxiliary blowers first, in order to provide the boost of fresh air into the cylinders as this will be required for efficient fuel combustion. The next step is to carry out an air blow while the indicator valves are open to the atmosphere. This will allow the compressed air to expel any moisture or small solid particles from the cylinder. After the air blow and as soon as the indicator valves are closed it’s time to run the main engine – ahead and astern for a few seconds each. This is done to ensure that the main engine controls are in good working conditions prior to the ships maneuvering. As soon as testing is completed the main engine is put on standby and ready for operation. During maneuvering it may be required to start and stop the engine many times. So we need to ensure that the starting air pressure is always within the operational limits. Now, the ship’s engine is not the same as a small car’s engine. So increasing the speed should be done at the recommended time intervals to avoid overloading the engine and risking thermal shock. The engine speed increases by burning more fuel. As more fuel is consumed more heat is produced and the engine temperatures will rise. The optimum temperature is automatically controlled and maintained by the cooling water system. But sometimes a few manual adjustments will be necessary. As soon as the ship reaches the open sea the engine can now go on full sea speed. That is all!!!