Monday, January 28, 2013

Captain's Blog 1/28/13

Today's Captain's Blog is written by Captain Brad Lima, Vice President of Academic Affairs, and a licensed Chief Engineer.

During the day the ship has maintenance occurring from bow to stern. The steel hull and superstructure require constant monitoring for rust and small sections are identified each day to be prepped for repainting. The cadets wear a mixture of protective gear including hard hats, goggles, gloves, hearing protection and when necessary, a harness should the cadet be working on staging. The upper class cadets are typically supervising the maintenance making sure that proper and safe practices are taking place.

One maintenance evolution which occurred in the engine room yesterday was when forward house air conditioning system developed a leak and needed to be shut down for repair. Under the supervision of the first engineer, the system's refrigerant was pumped out then transferred to a stand-by machine to go on line. Many valves had to be opened and closed and special tools were required to make the transfer. The whole evolution took one hour and the second machine was placed in service. You can teach this process in the classroom but first-hand experience reinforces what is taught in the classroom.

Daily engine room maintenance evolutions include blowing tubes where high pressure steam is sent through long pipes called soot blowers to blow the soot off the tubes. Soot collections on the boiler tubes retards heat transfer and reduce combustion efficiency. Even this evolution requires coordination between bridge and engine room. The ship must be slowed down slightly due the steam necessary for the soot blowing operation and the ship may have to alter its course to allow the wind to blow the over the side rather than collecting on deck. This evolution takes about an hour and is very systematic where the soot blowers are activated in specific sequence.

My time on the Kennedy is coming to a close as we arrive in Puerto Rico. Technology advances have significantly changed how we train our cadets and how a ship is operated as compared to when I was a cadet along with classmate Captain Bushy. But one thing which has not changed is that being aboard a ship forces shipmates to talk face to face and share stories (some more unbelievable than others) resulting in a sense of belonging to something truly unique and special.

Captain Brad Lima

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