“Ok, so does that all make sense to you guys?” Hawaiian Chieftain engineer Olivia asked us. Including myself, there were seven of us scrunched together in the engine room, perched carefully and regarding the array of colored pipes snaking their way from the engines, pumps, bulkheads, and assorted machinery.
At first glance, the spider webs of red, green, black and blue pipes that festoon the engine room on a modern working vessel are overwhelming. There is clearly a pattern to them, but where to even begin tracing them?
There can’t be many better places than the freshly painted, well organized, and brightly lit engine room of the Hawaiian Chieftain to put hands on things and figure out all the systems.
“I’d like for one of you to show me how we’d set up this space to use the power take off pump to empty the aft accommodations bilge,” Olivia asks. One of the deckhands, using their hands and a laser pointer describes how, first, the port engine would need be started, then which valves would need to be opened or closed, and how to engage the pump. As a group, we learn how the pumps work, and use that knowledge to prime them and run them without damaging them.
On Chieftain, cross training has been a core focus. Having everyone acquire skills across the board on deck, aloft, in the chart room, and in the engine room has resulted in the crew being a well oiled machine where anyone can lay in with an officer to assist in performing crucial functions for the ship in wide variety of ways.
At The Seafarer Collective, this philosophy of knowledge acquisition and bridge resource management is being taken to the next level. Systems and techniques discussed in a classroom setting will be put to use directly. Students will apply their coursework on diesel engines to lend a hand to the engineer to change a RACOR filter, or when the bosun needs a rig check done, they’ll throw on their harness and climb aloft to inspect seizings, mousings, and blocks.
There is no better teacher than experience. As a dedicated training vessel, Hawaiian Chieftain offers the perfect environment for anyone to become a skillful, smart, and professional mariner.