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What to expect on my first sea phase as an engineering cadet?

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  • What to expect on my first sea phase as an engineering cadet?

    Hi there, I just wanted to ask what kind of things will I be doing on my first sea phase and what am I expected to know? The reason I ask is because I'm half way through phase 1 and for the majority of my class, it seems like we haven't really gained much knowledge which is a bit worrying. Will the majority of learning be done at sea?

    I won't say which college I'm at, but the FD engineering course doesn't seem very well structured..I wonder sometimes if other phase 1 cadets are making better progress at other colleges.

    Any input will be greatly appreciated, thanks.

  • #2
    The college's are pretty much useless at preparing you for sea, but then that is not really their job! They have the task of doing the theoretical stuff. You will at somepoint be doing Marine Engineering classes, but again, I found they were not much good in the first phase, as you cannot really comprehend a lot of it until you actually go and join a ship.

    So don't worry, everyone will be in a similar boat. Your training company might well do some stuff with you, but again it will not make a huge amount of sense at this stage.

    Ships are used to having cadets joining with little knowledge, and will deal with that appropriately. As a rough guide, for your first trip you will be initially shown around the ship, and then the engine room. Chances are it will take you a couple of weeks to not get lost in the engine room, and work out what everything actually is! Every time I joined a ship, I did the Daily Routine with the motorman (doing daily soundings/readings etc etc). This will be done every day, and is a good way to learn your way about.

    What you learn at sea, and what you learn at college are two different things. Hence the Training Record Book. The college can do so much to help, but that is just the way it is really.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by thebrookster View Post
      The college's are pretty much useless at preparing you for sea, but then that is not really their job! They have the task of doing the theoretical stuff. You will at somepoint be doing Marine Engineering classes, but again, I found they were not much good in the first phase, as you cannot really comprehend a lot of it until you actually go and join a ship.

      So don't worry, everyone will be in a similar boat. Your training company might well do some stuff with you, but again it will not make a huge amount of sense at this stage.

      Ships are used to having cadets joining with little knowledge, and will deal with that appropriately. As a rough guide, for your first trip you will be initially shown around the ship, and then the engine room. Chances are it will take you a couple of weeks to not get lost in the engine room, and work out what everything actually is! Every time I joined a ship, I did the Daily Routine with the motorman (doing daily soundings/readings etc etc). This will be done every day, and is a good way to learn your way about.

      What you learn at sea, and what you learn at college are two different things. Hence the Training Record Book. The college can do so much to help, but that is just the way it is really.
      Thanks for the reassurance. Will it be mostly shadowing and taking notes? Or do you get to take part during the main tasks?

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      • #4
        Oh you get to join in....or at least you do if I'm about ;-) however most ships will have you in and out of places and spaces that will suprise you, that and all the routine stuff....you will be both note taking and joining in.....
        Trust me I'm a Chief.

        Views expressed by me are mine and mine alone.
        Yes I work for the big blue canoe company.
        No I do not report things from here to them as they are quite able to come and read this stuff for themselves.


        Twitter:- @DeeChief

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        • #5
          Yeah, as Chiefy says, a mixture. There will be jobs were the engineers don't want you helping, particularly if you end up with someone who panics about being held liable for something, I have had a couple of those.

          You'll do more as you progress as well. You can take it as granted however, if a job involves tight spaces, getting dirty or cleaning, then the cadet is assigned

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          • #6
            If you take a look at your TRB this should give you a good idea of what to expect. Not sure what the TRB is like for FD cadets but from memory, you are expected to complete the section which deals with safety on your first trip and anything else will be a bonus. I have always worked on the idea that cadets should also have the first signature (progressing) for the watchkeeping tasks as well.
            Go out, do stuff

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            • #7
              Interesting Clanky that you would expect your cadets to be doing the watchkeeping straight away, I was told that I should leave that to later trips, and in fact I was recommended to wait until the second sea phase. I have to say, I prefered leaving it for later trips myself, simply as it gave me a chance to familiarise with the ER and its systems.

              Safety section definitely, get the system drawings out of the way as soon as possible as well. The rest should fall into place, but be pro-active. If you know a job is going to happen that is in the book, ask if you can take part (and explain why!).

              One of my biggest criticisms of the British Cadet program, particularly the Engine side, is the sheer speed you are pushed through at. It very much is a case of being thrown in the deep end. Don't get me wrong, you have plenty of time to complete the TRB etc, but I would strongly support moving the sea time requirements up to match those of the Deck side. The PD program (and I would assume the FD is similar) is so pushed on time, many cadets finish with the bare minimum sea time, which even my college admitted the MCA examiners frowned upon. I was lucky to an extent, as I ended up with over 9 months seatime and 6 months watchkeeping (I pushed my company to keep me at sea), however it was obvious in the last college phase that those of us who were lucky enough to get the extra time in had a far better knowledge than those who scraped by. As with most things, time served is irreplaceable.

              My advice to the OP, request as much seatime as possible, as long as you are competent you WILL benefit from it.

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              • #8
                Thanks for the advice guys. We haven't been given our TRB's yet but I do plan on doing as much as I possibly can on my first sea phase. Would it be beneficial to take any particular notes/books with me for my reports etc.?

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                • #9
                  Hi there, I am on the PD Engineering course at Glasgow. I am currently on Phase 2 at Sea on a product tanker carrying oil, sat off Canada right now at anchorage, fishing time soon!

                  Q1: What am I expected to know?
                  A1: Not very much! Well that isn't strictly true, basically when I joined I had a rough idea of engineering from the College Phase although it is very short and you tend to cover more theoretical courses that focus on number crunching. A basic understanding of engines, 2-stroke/4-stroke cycles, different types of valves, how you tell when a valve is closed/shut, safety on a ship, this is just an example of some things I found handy knowing when joining. However all the engineers I have served with so far didn't expect cadets to know much on their first trip.

                  Q2: What type of things will I be doing?

                  A2: This obviously varies from ship to ship and is influenced by the crew you serve under and how much they actually care about your learning. I am lucky to be on a ship with a fantastic crew and a 2nd Engineer who seems very dedicated to helping with my training. The TRB provides a good example of the tasks you will be expected to carry out at varied stages of your two sea phases. Some of the tasks are a bit silly in that they can be very difficult to get experience in, however some may be covered just by theoretical knowledge and no practical experience. I will give you an example of some things I have done on my ship.

                  1/ Prepare and operate IG Plant 2/Maintenance on Purifier 3/Cleaning Non-return Valves 4/Helping prepare engine for start 5/Getting deck steam warmed through and ready 6/Cleaning Fresh Water Generator heat exchanger plates 7/ Fixing leaking toilets in peoples cabins 8/ Removing and cleaning HFO filters 9/ Cleaning Sea water strainers 10/Air compressor maintenance 11/ Pumping bilges 12/ Help in loading bunkers

                  This is just a few examples of some of the work I have carried out so far, you will also be expected to fill out the engine room log book.

                  When you join the ship you will no doubt be confused by all the machinery etc I know I was!! Just make sure you take the time at the start to trace out and learn all the systems, cooling water, fuel transfer, air start system etc. Don't rely on the computer diagrams or engine room drawings they aren't always 100% accurate or that easy to understand! Once you know the systems better it makes life easier and means if one of the engineers asks you to go shut a valve or something you will know where it is.
                  Newly qualified Officer #ClubMember

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                  • #10
                    As an addition to SWonder's post above, he mentions that some tasks may be difficult to complete.

                    As he says, some may be covered by theoretical knowledge, however there are some practical tasks that your 2/E may well just sign off, if they are happy.

                    On my second last ship, my 2/E went through my TRB, and looked at the various tasks, and simply signed a load off. When I questioned him as to why, he simply said that with all of those jobs he was confident he could assign them to me and I would be able to do them safely and efficiently. To him, that meant he was happy to sign me off as having done them. He made a good point, just because someone has completed a task correctly does not necessarily mean they will make a good engineer.

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                    • #11
                      Most of the tasks are worded as 'demonstrate an abilty / undertanding / knowledge of carrying out blah It does mean that you dont actually have to do it to get it signed off, it is often the comon way but it allows things to be signed off if youve done work similar or simply by discussion / report writing etc

                      Similarly there is no requiremnet for a progressing and then a proficent signature, firstly some things you may only see the once, and other things you are probably able to repeat correctly and safely again. Progressing is there to record progress and is useful for recording progress for subsquent voyages/ officers. i.e it only leaves one box for the next guy to fill in rather than giving him a choice.

                      There is a difference between the college course and the sea time, basically becasue if they only taught you the things that your doing on the ship you would never get the foundation degree, on the ship what things are and what they are there for is best taken one step at a time, what is connected to the main engine, where is it, what does it do, why do we need it etc. do rounds, look at name plates, take notes and get stuck in and it all kinda falls into place quickly

                      As an asside there is talk of putting the sea time requirement up to 9 months, and they have made that change for eto's already and as there is the time in the current program to do that then its probably a good thing.
                      you can take it with a pinch of salt, but i prefer it with a nip of whisky

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by ETwhat? View Post
                        Similarly there is no requiremnet for a progressing and then a proficent signature, firstly some things you may only see the once, and other things you are probably able to repeat correctly and safely again. Progressing is there to record progress and is useful for recording progress for subsquent voyages/ officers. i.e it only leaves one box for the next guy to fill in rather than giving him a choice.
                        But double check which section you are getting signed off!!

                        Some sections (Safety section sticks in my mind) require both progressing and proficient signing, as they fulfill separate requirements (they are labelled A11 and A12 respectively I recall). A good guide is the wee part near the rear, that requires other sections fulfilled before they can be signed off.

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                        • #13
                          after my maths exam results were returned I have been panicing non-stop, how much maths do you do onboard?

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by kirsty1994 View Post
                            after my maths exam results were returned I have been panicing non-stop, how much maths do you do onboard?
                            Not much at all to be honest. All I can say is be prepared to get dirty...
                            I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.....

                            All posts here represent my own opinion and not that of my employer.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by kirsty1994 View Post
                              after my maths exam results were returned I have been panicing non-stop, how much maths do you do onboard?
                              At Cadet / OOW level, the most important thing is to have a very good grasp of things like volume / mass / density, as some of the most important operations that you will carry out will be fuel transfers and understanding the consequences of these is essential. No-one is going to be asking you to integrate equations between limits.
                              Go out, do stuff

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