Manned engine-rooms are rare nowadays. Modern automation systems such as remote control and alarm and monitoring systems make it possible to operate most engine-rooms unmanned, at least part of the time.
In day-time engineers can execute planned maintenance and repairs or replacement of defective parts. Because engine-rooms are usually warm, damp and noisy, an un-manned engine-room is advantageous.
For ships with simple electrical installations it may be feasible to design a manned engine-room and delete the expensive and complicated automation for remote control, alarm and monitoring systems, fire-detection systems, fuel leakage detection, etc.
Automatic starting of a stand-by generator set, automatic closing of a dead bus bar after failure of the running set and automatic starting of all essential electric consumers is a SOLAS requirement for all ships, including those with a manned engine-room.
Unmanned (UMS) notation
On ships with notation UMS there is no need for a person permanent on watch in the engine-rom. These ships (UMS) are required to have additional warning systems such as:
Fire-detection system - automatic safety systems and remote-control systems for machinery
Automatic control systems for air compressors alarm and monitoring system
Automatic starting of stand-by pumps for propulsion auxiliaries on ship such as:
- seawater pumps
- freshwater pumps
- lubricating-oil pumps
- fuel-oil pumps
- propeller hydraulic pumps when not directly engine- driven
These systems have to be arranged in such a way that under normal operating conditions no manual intervention by engineers is required. Alarm and monitoring functions must be independent from safety systems.
Alarms that are not acknowledged in the space within a predetermined time must be automatically relayed to the engineer on duty via the engineer’s call system .
When the engineer on duty fails to act within a predetermined time the alarms will be relayed to other engineers.
When on patrol in the unmanned engine-room the duty engineer will activate the operator fitness system. This system consists of start/ stop panels at the entrances to the engine-room and timer-reset panels in the engine-room.
When the timer, normally set at 30 minutes, runs out and is not reset, an alarm will be given on the bridge and in the accommodation.