Davey Jones’ Locker: A Fire Drill Turns Real

Davey-Jones1Where we left off…

Once more we get underway, this time the automation last almost half an
hour, just about enough time so that we are in the major traffic lanes of
the Yangtze river…

Seems that since the boiler automation was designed for shoreside power
plants, which have several boilers instead of just two, so the computer
interpreted the bias as a malfunction and shut down the system.

The tugs hauled us back to the dock where the harbor master spoke with the
ship’s captain, seems he was concerned if we could get underway safely and
not pose a hazard to navigation.

I shared those concerns.

The automation guys cliteered away all night once more, they programmed in a
selectable bias, and programmed out the shut downs except for a few critical
items, I disapproved, but then I’m not in charge, and I guess the office
people didn’t wish to pay 1.5 million USD for automation that was little
more than a computer screen with pretty pictures of fires.

I told one of the automation guys that they should add that old Microsoft
app, the one with the paper clip, he informed me that would violate a
copyright, I guess humor is not taught in computer school.

The next morning after testing the system once more we got underway, we
sailed down the Yangtze for a few hours, when we were about two hours from
Shanghai, the computers went black, just completely shut down, one of the
automation guys claimed that this should be impossible because redundancy
was designed into the system.

We dropped the hook and once the ship was safe we went to investigate, the
automation guy wasn’t completely wrong, there were two computers, but both
feed from the same breaker, and sharing a battery pack, and they had not
thought to add an alarm to warn when the system was running on battery

The automation guys insisted that no additional battery pack was available
anywhere in Asia, and that they would need to order one from the U.S..

After three phone calls the Chief Engineer found the identical battery pack
was for sale all over China, and in fact was manufactured about an hour out
of Nantong.

The ship’s electrician wired the computers into separate and designated
breakers, we added the new battery pack and added alarms to warn if we were
using battery power.

We lifted the hook and once more got underway, this time making it Shanghai

Since we were late into Shanghai our berth was taken so we had to anchor and
wait, while waiting it was decided that this would be a good time for a fire

The drill was supposed to be simple, we would go to our respective stations
and for those of us, like me, whose station would be getting dressed out in
bunking gear (the stuff firefighters wear) we would make sure we had the
right sizes ect.

While checking our gear back aft the chief mate came running back rather
agitated, he yelled get in the gear, GET IN THE GEAR! the 1ST Engineer said
told him to calm down, the mate said he have a fire! the 1A/E told him to
relax it was just a fit out and walk through drill, the mate screamed NO!

Having an actual fire during a fire drill seems like it should be the plot
of a sitcom, and as it turned out the chief mate was excitable and a bit
prone to panic, me and the three others got into all of our gear, including
our air tanks and went to the scene of the “fire” well I suppose I should
write fire instead of “fire” but seeing as how the “fire” was in a trash
can, and on deck and posing no threat what so ever I’ll stick with “fire”
Amanda found a garden hose and we put the “fire” out and saved countless
lives (countless because you can’t count to none)

After the fire drill we all went to try on our survival suits, mine lacked a
light, but the best was Maria’s (more on this crazy assed hipster chick
later) Maria is, among other things, about 4’11” and weighs in at 105
pounds, but for reasons known not to any rational person she had been issued
a jumbo sized survival suit, one designed for a person at least 6’1″ and

The C/M told her to try it on anyway, she said no, he asked her why not, she
said “because it would be stupid, almost as stupid as you.”

The C/M got mad and stomped off, a few minutes later the phone rang, the
second cook answered and said that the second mate was to go up to the
bridge (the bridge must be manned when at anchor, or underway of course, the
engine room is always manned) the 2M left and a few minutes later the Oldman
showed up and asked Maria why the C/M was so upset.

Maria said “it’s not my fault, he was born stupid, that’s his parent’s
fault” the Oldman laughed and said “well he’s getting off as soon as we make
a U.S. port.”

They got Maria a small gumby suit, and me a strobe light for mine.

WE towed our survival suits and went to check the life boats, it turns out
that the motor from the port boat had been stolen…

To be cont..

Take Care,
David T

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