Blackout Situation on a Ship: What are the First Steps that should be Taken?

Blackout is one condition each and every mariner is familiar with and also afraid of. It is one situation everyone on the ship is terrified of because it brings the whole ship to a standstill. From bridge to engine room, from dinning crew members to the sleeping ones, everyone is affected by a blackout.If you are the one working in the engine room, then a blackout condition is your responsibility and you should be responsible for the same, sooner or later the blame is going to come on you. In this article we will learn what are the first things that need to be done in case of blackout condition on a ship?


Understanding Blackout ConditionBlackout condition is a scenario on a ship, wherein the main propulsion plant and associate machinery such as boiler, purifier and other auxiliaries stop operating due to failure of power generation system of the ship – Generator and alternator.With technologies and automation, measures are provided to avoid such blackout situation by means of auto load sharing system and auto standby system in which the generator set that is running in parallel or standby comes on load automatically if the running diesel generator fails.

What to Do in Case of a Blackout?In case of Blackout following precautions and actions should be taken:-    Never panic in such situation, be calm and composed. Emergency generator will restore the power in no time.    Inform Officer on bridge briefly about the condition.

Call for man power and inform the chief engineer.

    If the main propulsion plant is running, bring the fuel lever to zero position.    Close the feed of the running purifier to avoid overflow and wastage of fuel.    If auxiliary boiler was running, shut the main steam stop valve to maintain the steam pressure.    Find out the problem and reason for blackout and rectify the same.

Before starting the generator set, start the pre- lubrication priming pump if the supply for the same is given from the emergency generator; if not, then use manual priming handle (provided in some generator).

Start the generator and take it on load. Then immediately start the main engine lube oil pump and main engine jacket water pump.    Reset breakers and start all the other required machinery and system. Reset breakers that are included in preferential tripping sequence. (Non-essential machinery).    It requires both skill and patience to tackle a situation like blackout specially when the vessel is sailing or maneuvering. However, the best way to tackle such situations is to be calm and composed; and to know your engine room and machinery very well in advance.