Sunday, August 8, 2010

We were returning from a training cruise which consisted of taking 2 green crews out in the Chesapeake for 2 weeks and letting them operate the ship under our supervision when a thermostat that controlled the flow of cooling water to our port engine stuck shut. This caused the engine to overheat. When you are coming in for an anchorage or mooring, one screw is reversed to help maneuver the ship. Men in the engine room 3 decks down have no way of knowing the position of the ship. Red lights came on and horns started blowing. A quick check showed the thermostat stuck. We tried to bypass it with manually controlled valves, which also turned out to be stuck. The engine was getting hotter all the time. We called the bridge for permission to shut it down 2 times in quick succession and got no reply either time. I finally got a hold of the telegraph and moved it from one extreme to the other. Anytime it was moved it rang a bell on the telegraph in the wheel house. This was all entered in the engine room log. We received no reply from the bridge so I shut the engine down. Shortly after this we received the command to stop and secure all engines. Our watch was over so everyone went top side except myself and one man whom I kept down to help remove the thermostat. This took about a half hour. Since this was not an item carried in our spare parts, I went top side to get permission to go ashore for a replacement. I no more than got topside when men of the crew asked me what the old man wanted that he had been calling for me ever since we had tied up. I had no idea what he wanted but when I opened his cabin door, I knew something was for sure wrong. Every inch of his neck exposed above his shirt collar and his face was as red as it could be.

He did not even return my salute, he just said, "Why did you shut that engine down on me? I had the pilot on board and we almost hit the dock!"

I explained how we had a hot engine, had asked permission to shut it down to keep it from burning it up and that all this is in the engine room log book.

He finally said, "Well, you did the right thing but you sure embarrassed me in front of that pilot. If I had known we only had one engine, we could have maneuvered differently."

When he asked why I had shut down the engine, I knew why his face was red and thought, "Here go my stripes."

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