MR JORDAN’S LETTER in the December 2010 edition of Sea Breezes reminded me of a similar situation, though we had no hatch boards.
In the spring of 1968 I was serving as 2nd Mate in a tanker, the ss Mobil Libya. We were running between the Persian Gulf and South Australia with crude. One evening in the Indian Ocean we were just south of the equator bound for Kharg Island when the vessel came slowly to a stop. A breaker had jumped, caused a short circuit that knocked out the fuel pump. Before it could be fixed, the boilers went out due to no fuel. No steam so the main engine came to a stop, as well as the steam generators, so no electricity. No need to worry, we had a big emergency CAT diesel generator on the boat deck. It was started, there was a bang and it was found that the crankshaft had smashed. So there we were drifting with no power. Two red oil lamps were hoisted to show we were not under command and we went to bed in the dark with a cold supper.
Next morning a big confab was held as to how to get diesel to the boilers to start them up. By then the heavy fuel oil had cooled too much to be of immediate use and anyway, was very difficult to light. Hand pumping was of no use as the diesel had to be squirted into the burners with a considerable pressure. What if we take out the hand start diesel engine from the motor lifeboat and connect it to a pump to pump the diesel in the emergency generator fuel tank to the boilers? The engine was tested, it ran. With some difficulty it was removed from the lifeboat, lowered on deck and connected to a pump on deck. Piping then had to be arranged. All this took time and another day passed. Impossible to work at night inside, we had no light and so, having drunk some warm beers, groped our way in the darkness to our cabins. And, of course, no AC and with a flat calm it was very hot and sticky inside, with the sun beating down all day on the accommodation.
Next day the piping to the boilers was completed and the lifeboat engine started. What happened next was, with hindsight, inevitable – as the engine was not bolted down it started leaping all over the place, broke the connection to the pump and was quickly stopped. So the engine and pump had to be bolted down and this meant drilling holes through the steel deck – by hand. There was no other solution so we started drilling, everyone taking his turn. This time we drilled through the night as it was out in the open, there was enough light to just see what we were doing and, most of all, we wanted to get under way again. Especially myself who was due to go on leave. At last after another day and night of drilling the holes were completed, the engine and pump bolted down and connected, the engine started and – miracle, the diesel arrived in the boilers, was lit and steam started to build up. Eventually enough to start the generators – AC again, what heaven! The fuel oil was heated and eventually flowed to the boilers, took over from the diesel, and we were able to lower the two black balls and get under way to Kharg Island. Anyone around from the Mobil Libya who was there at that time?
Le Pech, 82400 Goudourville
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