How to Start the Ship’s Main Engine | Seaman VLOG 052

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!!!

Norman Bunn


  1. Chief makoi can you share about boiler base on youe knowledge. Thanks in advance. Pa shout out idol. Hehe

  2. The reason why the engine is cycled on and off in port is because its a direct drive right? ? No gearbox correct?

  3. Hi Chief MAKOi!! I am always following your vlogs. Thanks for the educational videos. It helps me a lot to have an overview of what is really out there. By the way sir I'm a cadet from University of the Visayas Maritime-Education. More power and be safe!😊😊😊

  4. Sir pa rquest, gawa ka ng video about sa engine room scenario during brthing and unberthing…

  5. Chief Makoi Idol! Ask LNG po if I want to choose Marine Engineer is needed poba na malaki katawan mo? Ty idol

  6. As a Marine Engineering student nakakatuwa na may ganitong videos mas nakaka excite tuloy magtapos at sumakay hehehe, thanks for this sir!

  7. So much trouble starting engine .easy way is one sailor dive and vigorously give five turns of the propeller instant start .throw a gaff and sailor is aboard again

  8. Hi sir! Marami po bang related mathematics subject ang marine engineering? Gimagamit po ba ang mga maths sa actual engine department? Thnks . Grade 12 here hehe

  9. I was former a O/S here @ inter island sr tnx for the vlog and tnx for giving the us a inspiration to be a seafarers god bless sir

  10. Chef Mako went from the galley to the engine room?
    Chef Mako made the best mackerel-on-rye sammich you ever tasted…

  11. I remember one story and jokes I cannot forget about starting of Main engine. One of my engine cadet colleague, were ask by our chief engineer to go and get "the KEY" for starting main engine. And master also played along and give him a big key. And once he down ECR, everybody laugh. Oh those jokes on cadets or first time onboard ships are priceless.

  12. while all that is good, why motorman doesn't wear a safety helmet when in engine room?

  13. We love your vids! This one was my favorite. We watch every morning at breafeast:) and happen to live right next to Kalama WA. I would love to see a more detailed video about these engine rooms someday, how much fuel can your ship store, how much fuel do you burn a day? Engine RPM at full speed? Is the engine cooled by sea water or is it like a cars radiator? That engine is a 2 stroke? Very cool, thanks for the insight and sorry for the long ranting comment:)

  14. Nice chief. Ito ang pangarap ko someday. Ang maging marine engineer. I'll always watch your videos para ma update ako sa buhay ng isang marine engineer.

    Ingat lagi chief.

  15. Thank you for putting time and effort to put up such an amazing video!

  16. What does that mean ? Starting another generator to fulfill increased demand


  18. So what you're saying is that this ship would not make a good getaway vehicle. But what if you're being chased by zombies, can you speed up the process by skipping some steps?

  19. another great film chief! your videos should be required watching at merchant academies.
    best wishes to you and your family Chief M!😳⛵

  20. How does the two stroke compare to the two strokes most people are used to on much smaller engines?
    I’m guessing you have much better ways of lubrication.

  21. Hey Cheif. Nothing like a good be engine. No different than a great woman. Treat them right and they are amazing. 😎👍

  22. My girlfriend is getting older. Hopefully a generator won't be needed 😂😂😂

  23. Another great video thank you for taking the time out to do that.

  24. What is Navigation Full is used for? And how long can you run on emerg. Full?

  25. I would expect there to be a gearbox that would handle forward and reverse, so the engine would not have to stop.

  26. This has to be one of the best channels on U Tube. Every episode brilliant.

  27. Too bad this video lacks the sound of the actual start of the engine…. That’s what I’ve been waiting for.

  28. Something else I was always curious about… Where is the brake pedal to stop the ship? 😁 How do you stop a ship from moving and how long does it take?

  29. "Bro, I left the keys at my g/f's place onshore…… "
    "Oh, maaaaaaan……." 🙂

  30. Thank u sir.
    We usually start the Fresh Water Generator when the speed is slow ahead right sir???

  31. Looks easy to my experience..twin Doxford six…hard work….together with 4 Allen gens.

  32. Hi Chief, another great video. Start up sequence reminds me of when I worked in a natural gas compressor station. We had 5 engines 2 rated at 1,500 HP, 1 at 2000 HP and 1 at 4000 HP all 4 stroke all started with starting air and all were turbo charged and ran on natural gas. Similar procedure for start up, run a pre-lube pump open the power cylinder petcocks to expel any moisture and roll the engine over on starting air for a few minutes, close the petcoks . Hit the air starter button turn on the fuel gas and ignition and the engine would fire up. After warm up and all parameters were in check from the engines panel board time to load the gas compressor up and begin compressing gas down the pipeline. Open suction valve open discharge valve close bypass valve and the engine would be on line. This was in the late 80's and station operators were required and on duty 24/7, since then all of our compressor stations are automated and the engines are all started and stopped from a control room in Houston TX, all with the click of a mouse. How things have changed ! Keep up the great work I really enjoy your channel.

  33. Nice work Chief MKOi …..for marine engg students and general masses . Chief T Y A G I

  34. Thanks C/E Makoi, it's a big help for us a student to watch a vlog how to start an engine.. keep it up and god bless

  35. Anyone else watching this in case the zombies come and you have to start up a ship to get away?

  36. Pakitaan rin sir ng paanu mag kompute ng bunker. Noon to noon report

  37. Can anyone tell me why there is a red zone on the tachometer from 50-60 rpm? Harmonic vibration zone?

  38. Sir vlog din po kayo s daily journal ng mga cadete po pra makatulong po sa amin pag sumakay po.

  39. Truly impressive, your degree of professionalism, and the technical proficiency required by members of the Engineering Department! It looks like the work never ends!

  40. i want to be a marine engineer chief makoi, someday. grade 11 palang po ako haha

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