Job profiles for the engine and boiler rooms

  • Thread starter Catherine S. Ehlers
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Catherine S. Ehlers

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I am rather sorry to say that I remain somewhat confused on the chain of command below decks. All I'm sure of is (1) Chief Engineer Bell was in overall charge of everything, and (2) The leading firemen, like Fredrick Barrett, were foremen whose job it was to keep the stokers and trimmers on task. However, there are some other things I'm still unsure about, such as:
(1) What difference was there between a senior third engineer, a junior third engineer, and a senior assistant third engineer? Or a senior fourth engineer as opposed to a junior fifth engineer? (2) Why were there two deck engineers? Were there engines up on deck?
(3) Where did the electricians work? Was the electrical room in one of the engine rooms, or a separate room? Where was the electrical panel and the breaker switches?

And I feel like asking another question re engineers: What exactly do those guys do? The stokers put the coal into the furnaces, the trimmers bring the coal from the bunkers, the greasers keep the engines oiled or lubricated. What exactly is an engineer's job description? I recall them turning those huge wheels when the ship was changing speed and/or direction. What is their job like today as opposed to 1912?

Thanks, guys, for giving this consideration

Cathy
 

Noel F. Jones

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May 14, 2002
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ENGINEERS RANKS:

Catherine asks:

(1) What difference was there between a senior third engineer, a junior third engineer, and a senior assistant third engineer? Or a senior fourth engineer as opposed to a junior fifth engineer?

Generally, there were only two certificated engineers required by BOT regulations. The Chief Engineer would hold a First Class Certificate of Competency in Marine Steam Engineering, the Second Engineer would hold a Second Class etc. In a large vessel such as Titanic these formal qualifications would extend further down into the hierarchy.

The basic Board of Trade command chain was Chief, Second, Third and Fourth, the last three being the watchkeepers. Obviously, in large vessels this basic had to be augmented, thus you get senior second, junior second etc.

There was a discretion exercised in drafting in engineers from smaller vessels so that they were not perceived to be 'demoted'. Thus you get such abberations as your 'senior assistant third'.

It was also common practice to put a man on board on a voyage basis to make up some particular maintenance deficit and he would have to be slotted into the hierachy at some point consistent with his achieved status; all capacities were entered in the person's discharge book and if for instance he moved to another company it must not be unjustifiably perceivable that he had been disrated (demoted).

During manoeuvreing, seniors would be on the control platform, juniors positioned at critical stations elsewhere.

On passage only watchkeepers would be on duty. They would carry out assigned surveillance functions, keep the log accordingly and would otherwise be free to perform general maintenance.

Some engineers might be permanently assigned to 'daywork' for general maintenance.

In order to fulfil their functions, shipboard engineers, uncertificated, needed to be graduate shipyard apprentices or were time-served marine engine fitters. Or otherwise they must have had a recognised background in commensurate heavy engineering.

(2) Why were there two deck engineers? Were there engines up on deck?

Indeed there were. Deck engineers, where carried, service the considerable deck machinery such as the steering engine, mooring windlass or capstans, warping winches, cargo winches and deck cranes. A full time job in a large and complex vessel such as Titanic.

In general, most shipboard ratings, whether or not they accrue officer status, differ from such as military ranks because they are matches to specific and unique functions needed to operate a particular ship.

If you are now suitably confused you would not be alone!

Noel
 

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