Sunday, March 2, 2008

Steaming Watches

Before I get into writing about how to get a steamship ready to sail, I need to give a breakdown of the watchstanders in the engineering plant. Of any parts of the ship, the engineering plant was an industrial plant and had many of the same safety rules as one might find in a factory. Steel-toed shoes were mandatory, only cotton or fire-resistant uniforms could be worn and hearing protection was required in a steaming plant from the time fires were lit to the time they were pulled.

EOOW- Engineering Officer of the Watch. The EOOW is in charge of the entire engineering plant for his/her watch. The EOOW is the direct representative of the CHENG; everyone in the Engineering Department, other than the CHENG, has to obey the orders of the EOOW. The EOOW takes orders only from the CHENG, the Captain and the Officer of the Deck. The EOOW stands watch usually in Main Control, a good EOOW will, from time to time, roam the rest of the plant. EOOWs were usually chief petty officers or officers, though a sharp first class petty officer sometimes qualified. One had to be qualified as an EOOW to be considered for command at sea. For officers who were not assigned to the Engineering Department, qualifying as EOOW, especially on a steam plant, was a difficult task.

Fireroom Watches

BTOW- Boiler Technician of the Watch. There is one BTOW for each steaming fireroom (frigates had one fireroom, destroyers and cruisers had two). The BTOW runs the fireroom. When the Automatic Combustion Control System (ACC) is engaged, the BTOW operates it. Normally the ACC runs on its own, but the BTOW can control it if necessary ("remote manual operation").

Upper Levelman- If the ACC is not working, the Upper Levelman operates the main feed pump to control the water level in the boiler.

Lower Levelman- No ACC, the Lower Levelman operates the forced draft blowers.

Burnerman- No ACC, the Burnerman controls the fuel oil flow to the burners.

If the ACC is running, those three watchstanders do maintenance to idle equipment, preserve and paint stuff, and do the things necessary to keep the fireroom in good condition.

Fireroom Messenger- The duty gofer, the fireroom messenger wakes up the next watch at night. This is an "under instruction" watch, the fireroom messenger is training to do the duties of the other boiler operators. If the BTOW wants a cup of coffee, the fireroom messenger gets it.

Engine Room Watches

MMOW- Machinist Mate of the Watch. The MMOW is in charge of the Engineroom. More than that, one of the enginerooms also functions as Main Control; it has all of the intercoms and telephone lines to the Bridge and elsewhere. The MMOW in Main Control is supposed to serve as the emergency backup to the EOOW.

Throttleman- There are two large valve control wheels that operate the valves that admit steam to the main engine's turbines. The Throttleman is the one who is answering the engine bells from the Bridge. In maneuvering situations, such as coming into or leaving port, there is a Throttleman for the ahead turbine and one for the astern turbine.

Generator Man- runs the steam turbogenerators (SSTGs). In the Knox Class frigates, there was a separate auxiliary space with the three SSTGs; Aux 1 had a generator man and an assistant. No steaming spaces were ever manned by less than two people, for safety reasons.

Engineroom Messenger- Beside being the go-fer, the Engineroom Messenger took the hourly readings and oversaw the operation of the evaporators.

Non-Hole Watches

The main engineering plant was known as "the Hole." The other watches were:

Switchboard Watch- Kept an eye on the electrical distribution system. Some ships had separate switchboard rooms, other ships had their switchboards in the engine rooms.

Sounding and Security Watch- Kept an eye on all of the remote equipment, such as the air conditioning plants and the air dehydrators, which supplied super-dry air to the radar waveguides. Sounding and Security would visit the shaft alleys and other unoccupied spaces, and present hourly readings to the EOOW.

DC Central Watch- This watch was stood in Damage Control Central. Sounding and Security also checked in here. The DC Central watchstander's job was an emergency watch, he or she was the one who would open the DC plates (large diagrams of the ship) and start plotting reports in an emergency while the rest of the ship went to Battle Stations, known as GQ for General Quarters. All underway emergencies, such as fires, were handled at GQ.

Duty Oil and Water King- This was more of an on-call position on smaller ships. The Duty Oil and Water King checked fuel samples and tested the chemistry of the boilers. If chemicals needed to be added or other actions taken to keep the chemistry within operating limits, the Duty Oil and Water King would make recommendations to the BTOW and to the EOOW.

3 comments:

physioprof said...

writing about how to get a steamship ready to sail

Now you're fucking talking! Can't wait for that!

The Earth Bound Misfit said...

We still have a way to go before lighting fires. I need to get the organization of the ship down, first.

physioprof said...

I'm trying to be patient! Seriously, this is totally fucking awesome. I am really enjoying learning about this stuff from you.