As we slowly steam through the rather windy and choppy Mediterranean Sea, we enjoyed another quiet and relaxing sea day aboard the magnificent Viking Sun. This was our 2nd day in a row without a scheduled Baggo match, so I can only hope our longer layoff doesn’t negatively affect our team’s performance tomorrow.
Regular readers are aware we have enjoyed numerous behind the scenes tours, so today we completed the last two areas, with a double header. Read on to see where we visited today. Hint, these days you normally don’t see them while at sea.
The ship also started a new initiative today, with the crew working 1 day on followed by a day off, for recreation, training, personal development, etc. Therefore, with only about 50% of the crew working each day, our crew/passenger ration has dropped to a still very impressive 28.65 crew to each passenger.😊
Still steaming WNW’ly courses South of Heraklion at a speed of about 13 kts
Overcast with rather fresh, almost gale force NW’ly winds, with 8 – 10′ seas.
This evening we were joined by 2 lovely young ladies from the Shore-ex Team – Maria and Makarena (Sp??), who come from Mexico and Chile respectively. Another excellent meal with great conversation.
Today’s activities included:
- 08:00 Spa opens
- 09:00 Temperature check
- 09:30 Baggo
- 10:00 Navigation Bridge Tour
- 10:00 Lectures – recorded lectures in Cinema 1
- 10:00 Ted Talks – in Cinema 2
- 10:30 Baggo –
- 13:30 Engine Control Room Tour
- 14:00 Afternoon Melodies – Classical Duo
- 14:00 Atrium Coffee Club
- 15:00 Afternoon Melodies – Classical Duo
- 17:00 Zumba
- 17:45 Evening Serenades – guitarist Mark
- 18:00 Insanity Workout
- 20:00 Film in Star Theatre
- 22:00 Music at Pool Deck with Viking Band
After breakfast and daily temperature check, we sat in the Atrium chatting until a young lady from Guest Services arrived about 10:00, to escort us to the Navigation Bridge, for a highly unexpected visit. Our name badges do say, “Honorary Crew”, so we scored a Bridge visit at sea.
How times have changed, as when I was a cadet on SS Uganda, the venerable old British School ship, sailing with 1,000 school kids, I conducted Bridge Tours every 1/2 hr – 08:30, 09:00, 10:00, 10:30 & 11:00.
In addition to the photos and description of the Bridge, I will provide some additional information and history from my 40 years working on mostly passenger ship Bridges.
The Bridge is manned 24/7 every day, regardless of whether the ship is in port, or at sea. They maintain a 3-watch schedule, with at least 2 Officers and 1 rating at all times. The manning is supplemented, as the navigational situation dictates. Normal manning is:
- Senior OOW* – 1st Officer or 2nd Officer
- Junior OOW* – 3rd Officer
- Rating – QuarterMaster, Able Seaman or Ordinary Seaman
- Deck Cadet – Is a trainee officer, who is added to supplement a Bridge Watch
* OOW = Officer of the Watch
Since the ship recently had a Marine Pilot aboard for the Suez Canal transit, the Master developed a system to ensure the entire Bridge Team was not potentially exposed to any virus. During the Canal transit, the Master and the same officers remained on the Bridge, wearing protective equipment. The Staff Captain and all other Officers and Ratings, were isolated and did not visit the Bridge until the Pilot disembarked and the Bridge was thoroughly disinfected. The Master and Canal Bridge Team are now quarantined in their cabins, as a precaution, in the very unlikely event they contracted the virus. Therefore, the Staff Captain and other officers are maintaining the 3 sea watches. With only a 3rd Officer and Cadet on the 8 to 12, the Staff Captain is also on the Bridge during these hours. Traditionally, at sea the 8 to 12 is known as the Captain’s Watch, with a 3rd Officer.
On entering the Bridge, we were met by Patrick, the Staff Captain, who conducted the tour, while the 3rd Officer and Cadet maintained the watchkeeping roles.
Ship’s Bridges have evolved significantly, especially these past 20 years, with fully integrated electronics housed in consoles and information displayed on a series of inter-changeable monitors.
My first ships back in the 1970’s were built in the 1950’s or earlier, so had basic layouts with a telegraph and brass voice tubes to various locations. Radars were stand alone units and with some Masters, you only turned it on when foggy, to save wasting it.
In the 1990’s our first venture into modern Bridge design had consoles shaped more as an “E”, with 2 seats having equipment on both sides, accessible from the chair.
Way back in 1999, on the High Speed Ro/Ro Ferry (40+ kts), I commanded, we had a very tight “E” shaped console, where I could also steer the ship with a joystick on the Stbd armrest and control the Radar & Electronic Chart from the Port armrest. While an excellent arrangement, most of the later designs favour a wider design, with a console between the 2 seats. As shown above, the wider console more resembles a “T” shape. Between the seats are normally:
- Main engine controls – throttles, which directly control the engines
- Bow/Stern thruster controls – only usable at slow speed
- Steering controls
- Variety of switches for all of the above.
The deckhead consoles display a series of analog gauges that duplicate key information that is presented digitally on the voyage management screens – these can include shaft RPM, power load, rudder angle, rate of turn indicator, course, speed, wind, etc.
Yes, the days of huge wooden steering wheels, that were rotated once for every 5 degrees of helm are long gone. Above is the wheel, used by the QM when the ship is steered manually. At sea, steering is controlled by the auto-pilot, which on modern ships can be activated in course mode or track mode. In course mode, the auto pilot will maintain any course that the OOW enters into the system. In track control, a course is drawn on the electronic chart, and once activated, the auto-pilot will follow the line, way-point by way-point. When I sailed with this system, it alarmed just prior to an alteration of course, but no manual action was required to make the alteration. I could also set an ETA for any waypoint and the system would adjust speed accordingly, to make the ETA.
The days of Radio Officers are long gone, so all navigational communications are now conducted on the Bridge with VHF radios for short range and Satellite based GMDSS systems for the others. This is the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System.
When docking/undocking, they also have all the main controls and gauges on smaller consoles, on each Bridge Wing.
From left to right, the above gauges are:
- Echo Sounder – set in Metres, with a depth of >2,000 m it was out of range
- Speed Log – set for Speed Through the Water (STW), it was set in Knots and as a dual axis log, it provides speed fore & aft and also the athwartships drift/set
- Rate of Turn indicator – when docking ferries in high beam winds/tides, this was a key gauge. It provides rate of turn in degrees/minute and more importantly if it is to port or stbd.
- Port Rudder – provides the rudder angle of the Port Rudder
- Stbd Rudder – provides the rudder angle of the Stbd Rudder. Since the rudders can be controlled individually or synchronised they require individual gauges. When docking with 1 engine ahead and 1 astern, I routinely left the astern engine rudder midships and steered with only the ahead engine rudder. However, with 10,000 HP on each shaft and high lift Becker Rudders capable of 90 degrees, I effectively had a 10,000 HP stern thruster. This ship has a stern thruster, but does not have a high lift rudder.
- Port DG output – in MW
- Port Shaft RPM
- Stbd Shaft RPM
- Port DG output – in MW
Based on the screen above:
- The ship is the black circle, with the hash marks being past track. The black line is the course steered (288.5) and the dashed red line is the Course Made Good (CoG), which is 285.5, therefore the wind and/or tide is causing the ship to set 3 degrees to port.
- Radar is set on 12 mile range and vectors are set at 12 minutes
In addition to the Bridge, they also have an office for the Captain/Staff Captain and an Emergency Control Room.
Engine Control Room
At 13:30, we were met by the Chief Engineer in the Atrium and taken down to the Engine Control Room. Unfortunately, due to the numerous risks of being around moving machinery, tours of the actual Engine Room are no longer permitted.
Some of the above screens and controls are:
- Upper level large monitor and furthest right – displays the power generation plant, main bus and breakers to all main electrical equipment. At the top of this screen are the 4 DG’s which comprise 2 larger and 2 smaller engines. In compliance with safe return to port requirements they are located in 2 separate compartments – 1 large and 1 small in each. At present the 2 larger engines are online, to facilitate the required speed at 82% MCR (maximum continuous rating). They endeavour to match engine utilisation for 85% MCR. Below the DG’s is a thick line representing the Main Bus, with inter-connect between both Engine Rooms. At present these breakers were closed, so both DG’s were feeding a common bus. Below the Bus were breakers to various major power requirements:
- Port shaft – with both breakers closed, supplying power
- Stbd shaft – with both breakers closed
- Thrusters – with breakers open, so no power being supplied
- Air Con – of the 4 units, 1 breaker was closed and 3 were open. Due to cooler temperatures outside, only 1 air handling unit was required
- Hotel Loads – all breakers were closed
- Upper level, large monitor to the left – list all recent alarms and status
- Upper level, small monitor in the middle – this was a multi-function screen with input from the Bridge Electronic Chart. Multiple screens displayed the voyage plan, speed required, recommended DG configuration, current % of MCR. The current screen showed which engines are running and the % of MCR.
- Lower level, directly below the small upper monitor – the engines can be controlled from the ECR using these 2 throttles. They are linked with the Bridge. At present, engine control resides on the Bridge, so only those controls are live. However, all non-operating controls follow the setting of the Bridge controls. In the immediate area are also:
- Two rows of red & white buttons – these are the old style telegraphs. If the ship was manoeuvred on Engine Room control, the Bridge press engine orders on the telegraph buttons, the Engineers press the same button to cancel the alarm and move the throttle accordingly.
- Above the telegraphs are the analog gauges showing shaft RPM & power output
- Between the analog gauges are 2 white monitors, with the left one showing info on the props and the right one shows the shafts and bearings from the thrust bearing to the stern tube and 2 external bearings.
- Outboard of the telegraphs/analog gauges are the steering gear controls
- The 2 screens furthest to the left are multi-function monitors that display a variety of information – doors, pumps, etc,
The bottom right of the above photo is the stabilser control panel, while the CCTV screens show multiple key locations throughout the Engine Room.
Similar to the Bridge Tour, we spent a full hour in the ECR, with both the Staff Captain and Chief Engineer being very welcoming and providing lots of information and answering many questions. Two most enjoyable tours.