Concerning Fireman Shmuckatelli’s Work Ethnics, Part II

10 03 2008

IC’s are also responsible for navigation and engine consoles. Consoles, if you can’t guess, are big…consoles…with indicator lights, switches, buttons, levers (sometimes) and steering wheels (at least the one that steers the ship). Also on these consoles are built in communication circuits, as well as the necessary gauges, meters, and other such relevant devices to display relevant information.

Each engine room has a master console in the EOS (Enclosed Operating Space, which is a small, cramped, air conditioned booth on the side of the engine room) that engine operators use to control the engines in that particular room. There was also a master console in the main engine room which could control all four engines.

These consoles were not really a big deal, and they pretty much worked well and never really needed much repair, except for the occasional new power supply (which weighed something like 100 pounds each and were the size of a toaster oven). However, one time I got in trouble for trying to fix a console over the phone. I didn’t get sent to Captain’s Mast, just got yelled at.

It was late (3am or so) and I was on duty. We were at sea, probably in the Persian Gulf. The engine operator was trying to change the engines speed, but the engine itself wouldn’t respond. This is pretty serious, as there is no way to manually alter the engines speed, because it’s all done through the control console.

Actually, I’m sure there was a way to manually control the engine, but it was such a pain in the ass that it was easier to have the ICmen come fix the console first.

This all happened right after we lost power for a few minutes (which not to many people really noticed because it was 3am), so I already knew what the problem was. In order to fix the problem, the engine needed to be shut down, the console “rebooted,” and then the engine would start up and respond to the console like normal. What happened was the power failure caused all the relays in the console to trip, which, of course, makes the engine unresponsive to commands from the console (duh…if you know what a “relay” is and how these archaic consoles work).

The guy that was operating the console (An Engineman Second Class, or EN2) was friendly with me and my shop, so when he noticed the problem he gave us a call. I told him what needed to happen to resolve the issue, he found the solution to be reasonable, so we said our thanks and good byes and hung up our phones. He of course knew how to shutdown and restart the engine, and I know that he knew how to “reboot” the console because that’s part of the training you go through when you become a qualified engine operator.  Besides, a monkey could reboot the console, as it literally has a big switch on the side that is labelled “on/off.”  When EN2 informed the EOOW (Engineering Officer of the Watch) what I said to do, all hell broke loose.

I’ll go into more details about this EOOW another time.

At this point, I was asked (more like harshly ordered by the EOOW) to go and wake up IC1, my boss, and have him come down to fix the problem. Now me and IC1 were always more or less butting heads, but we were both pretty laid back guys, so oddly enough when it came to issues not involving work we got along great.

I’ll tell you about the time he punched me in the face for pulling an “I told you so” some other time.

Anyway, one of IC1’s unwritten rules was to NOT wake him up in the middle of the night unless “the fucking world is on fire.” I figured that me getting ordered to wake him up would be acceptable, and I was right. He wasn’t pissed at me that night for waking him up. He got pissed at me later.

I wake up IC1 and inform him what was going on, he says “Go down there and take care of it.” I tell him that I was told to “Wake you up and get you down there.” He couldn’t argue with that, and he knew that I wouldn’t wake him up for something that I could do myself. I didn’t explain to him the whole “fixing the console over the phone thing.” He found out about that when he got back 20 minutes later.

Apparently, it was wrong of me to fix things over the phone.

It pissed off the EOOW that I would even try to fix something over the phone, mostly because he already thought I was the “laziest mother fucker” on board, and also because I probably should have gone down there and at least shown my face.

The funny thing is, I was totally right about the console, and when IC1 went down to the engine room he did exactly what I already said needed to be done. When he got back up to the shop (It’s about 7 decks), he was all sweaty and bothered.

For one thing, you can’t go down to an engine room and NOT sweat, its just impossible  When both engines are running, the average temperature in the space is about 95 degrees. Also, he was pissed at me for trying to fix something over the phone. He yelled for a bit until he cooled down (physically), then went back to bed.

So why would I try and fix something over the phone? Normally I could get away with it because I knew the equipment so well. When there is a problem that happens often, its always from the same thing, so doing the same thing will fix it. If the thing that needs to be done could be done by whoever is calling me, I’ll save time and have them do it if they are cool with that.  I’ve fixed things over the phone countless times, but I guess this was such a major system that it was just wrong for me to attempt a phone fix.

Also, I probably was the laziest mother fucker on board.

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