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Unmanned machinery space operations on board cargo ship

Safety precautions for Unmanned machinery spaces:
Personnel should never enter or remain in an unmanned machinery space alone, unless they have received permission from, or been instructed by the engineer officer in charge at the time. They may only be sent to carry out a specific task which they may be expected to complete in a comparatively short time.



Before entering the space, at regular intervals whilst in the space and on leaving the space, they must report by telephone, or other means provided, to the duty deck officer. Before they enter the space the method of reporting should be clearly explained. Consideration should be given in appropriate instances to using a `permit-to-work' .

If it is the engineer officer in charge who enters the machinery space alone, he too should report to the deck officer.

Notice of safety precautions to be observed by personnel working in unmanned machinery spaces should be clearly displayed at all entrances to the space. Warning should be given that in unmanned machinery spaces there is a likelihood of machinery suddenly starting up.

Unmanned machinery spaces should be adequately illuminated at all times.

When machinery is under bridge control, the bridge should always be advised when a change in machinery setting is contemplated by the engine room staff, and before a reversion to engine room control of the machinery.


Unmanned machinery space checks

On any ship certified for unmanned operation, the machinery spaces may be unattended for a maximum period of 16 consecutive hours. No vessel is to operate with the machinery spaces unmanned in the following circumstances:
Before Going UMS

Before going UMS, the Duty Engineer must ensure that all day service tanks for fuel, cylinder oil and header tanks for cooling water, lubricating oil, etc are full. An inspection of all active and operational machinery and systems in all the machinery spaces, particularly for fuel and lubricating oil leakage, is to be carried out.
A Critical Operations Checklist, is to be developed, maintained and used for ensuring all necessary checks are made prior to going unmanned. Once the checklist has been completed, the engine room alarms should be set to “UMS Mode” and the Bridge notified of the engine room status and engineer on duty. An entry should be made in the engine room log book.


Entering / Leaving the Engine Room During Unmanned Period

The Duty Engineer Officer must report to the Bridge when he is entering and leaving the Machinery Spaces.
Whenever the duty engineer is required to enter the machinery spaces during UMS periods, including attendance for evening rounds and to respond to alarms, the “Deadman” alarm system is to be operated, where fitted. On vessels without a “Deadman” alarm system, the duty engineer must contact the bridge every 15 minutes to verify his safety.

In the case of an alarm, the Duty Engineer Officer must verify the cause of the alarm, and take necessary measures to rectify the cause. If necessary he is to call another Engineer Officer.
In the case of fire, flooding, serious machinery or electrical generation malfunction or similar threat to safety, the Duty Engineer Officer must call the Bridge and the Chief Engineer.
Two full log entries of the engine room machinery parameters are to be made during the 8 hr manned period, and one log entry for the unmanned period.
The Chief Engineer is to issue standing instructions specific to the vessel detailing the operation of the machinery during the unmanned period.
Means are to be adopted to ensure that entry into unmanned machinery spaces outside normal working hours is restricted to the Duty Engineer and any other persons as authorised by the Chief Engineer. Access doors are to carry appropriately worded "Entry Prohibited" signs indicating the times during which the special restrictions are applicable.


On any ship certified for unmanned operation, the machinery spaces may be unattended for a maximum period of 16 consecutive hours. No vessel is to operate with the machinery spaces unmanned in the following circumstances:

• During preparation for departure see section 4 of this chapter.

• During manoeuvring/standby operation.

• At sea or at anchor when the Master or the Chief Engineer requires the Engine Room to be manned due to adverse weather, traffic etc.

• When the cargo handling plant places a high and variable load on the electrical or steam generating plant.

• When port regulations prohibit any unmanned engine room.

• With any fire, major alarm, or safety system inoperative, including any fire detection system zones isolated.

• If any propulsion equipment back up provision is inoperative.

• With any major control or communication system inoperative.

• If the bridge console is inoperative.

• Before the Chief Engineers specific instructions for operating in the unmanned condition have been complied with.




Related Information:

Guideline for work in machinery spaces on board cargo ship & Safety precautions

Responsibilities of the engineer working in machinery spaces

Fuel oil supply for a two-stroke diesel engine


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