Crew structure on board merchant vessels – engine department

Crew structure on board merchant vessels – engine department

As mentioned in the previous material for the deck department on board merchant vessels, life on board is focused on precise rules and tasks. Each crew member carries out his rank duties in order to keep the vessel operations running safely and smoothly.

The engine crew is responsible with operating, maintaining and repairing, when required, the propulsion and support system. The engine department is also responsible with the repair and maintenance of other systems, such as: lighting, lubrication, refrigeration, air conditioning, separation, fuel oil, electrical power and so on.

According to the vessel’s hierarchy, the engine officers are as follows: Chief Engineer, Second Engineer, Engine Watch Officer, Electrician Officer and Engine Cadet.

crew structure
The first engine officer and in charge of the engine department is the Chief Engineer. He takes complete control of the engine room and must make sure that every system and equipment runs by the book and is suitable for inspection at all times. The Chief Engineer also maintains up to date inventory for spare parts, extra fuel and oil and delegates the tasks for the officers under his command. In order to become a Chief Engineer a seafarer must first be a Second Engineer with at least two years sea time experience.

After the Chief Engineer, in charge with the engine room is the Second Engineer, who also has a management level position. He assists the Chief Engineer in keeping the vessel running efficiently, is responsible for supervising the daily maintenance and operation in the engine room and prepares the engine room for arrival, departure or other operations. He reports directly to the Chief Engineer.

The Engine Watch Officer position is usually held by the Third or Forth Engineer and it is an operational level job. The Third Engineer is usually responsible with the change of boilers, fuel, the auxiliary engines, condensate and feed systems. The Fourth Engineer is the most inexperienced officer, who has duties assigned by the Second Engineer, and some of his responsibilities are: engine watch, air compressors, purifiers and other auxiliary machinery.

Another officer working in the engine room is the Electrical Engineer, in charge with overseeing and ensuring the maintenance and proper functioning of all the electrical systems and machinery. The Electrical Engineer responds directly to the Second Engineer and to the Chief Officer and has to have proper training to do this job.

Some merchant vessels also have amongst its crew members an Engine Cadet or Electrical Cadet, who receive structured training and experience on board and learn how to become an engine or electrical officer.

Apart from the officers, the engine department crew also consists of ratings, such as Motorman, Fitter, Electrician, Pumpman and Oiler/wiper.

The Motorman is the engine rating who keeps watch and assists the engine officers when performing maintenance tasks. He also participates in maintaining and repairing the main and auxiliary engines, pumps and boilers.

On board vessels, the Fitter carries out daily maintenance and engine cleaning jobs and is also specialized in fabrication, welding or repairing.

The Electrician on board a merchant vessel is the rating working on the electrical equipment and systems, wiring and high voltage panels.

Mostly on tanker vessels we may also find a Pumpman, responsible with the liquid cargo transfer system, pumps, the stripping pumps, filters valves, deck machinery involved in the liquid cargo transfer etc. His main job is to keep the liquid cargo system on a tanker running accordingly.

The Oiler or Wiper on board is the rating in charge with cleaning the engine spaces, machinery, lubricating bearings and other moving parts of the engine and assisting the engine officers in the general maintenance of the machinery in order to ensure the oil temperature is within standards and oil gauges are working properly.

Although the crew structure in the engine room is mainly the same, there are vessels that only have a part of the mentioned crew. This is due either to the size of the vessel or to financial reasons.

Nedcon Maritime, as a maritime manpower supplier recruits highly trained engine officers and ratings for all types of vessels. Our crew members are carefully selected to ensure that each task is performed at the highest possible standards.

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