life of fourth engineer on board ship

My experience as a Fourth Engineer On board Ship | 10 Tips for Newbies

In this Article, I will be sharing my experience of 3 ships as a fourth engineer, and I will end this post with some PRO TIPS, which will help my fellow juniors to get most out of their sea time.

You may also like to read my experience as Trainee Marine Engineer on board ship, where I elaborated on how I landed my first job and what all I experienced as a Trainee.

So, without wasting any time, let’s dive into the exciting story of mine as a fourth engineer.

Before Joining the First Ship as Fourth Engineer

After clearing my MEO class 4 exams in July 2016, I reported in the company for my first joining as a fourth engineer, but the struggle to earn in lakhs has not yet ended.

My company told me to wait for another one year as they had only five vessels with fourth engineers, and other vessels didn’t have any as I said you in my Trainee marine engineer experience post.

After hearing this, I got a severe shock as I was expecting to join ASAP to repay the debts I took to fund my expenses during MEO class 4.

My brain went numb for a couple of days, and that was when my family supported me emotionally,

A few days later, I started sending my resume to different companies, but nothing happened.

That was when JIO launched its 4G services in India, and I started watching some YouTube tutorials on how to earn money online.

During that time, I came to know about making money on YouTube. And soon, I found a way to get benefitted from it.

Actually, my mother is a Fashion Designer. She loved to sew the latest designer clothes, and so, one day, I told her about making money by uploading videos on YouTube.

She took my proposal very seriously, and I still remember that night I woke up till 0400 to learn how to make and customize a YouTube channel.

We started making videos from the very next day, and today she has more than 5 Lakhs subscribers on her YouTube channel “a2zsewingtutorials”

Meanwhile, I kept contacting different companies, and finally, I got a call to join a Cape Size Bulk Carrier from Mundra Port in Gujarat.

I was lucky enough to join directly as a fourth engineer because nowadays, most of the companies send the new guys as an additional fourth engineer to reduce their manning cost.

I started shopping for my first voyage. You can read the detailed Article on “must things to carry while joining a ship” by following the link.

First Ship as a Fourth Engineer

As earlier said, I joined the ship from Mundra, where she was discharging coal; I took over and understood the duties of fourth engineer from the previous guy. The ship sailed off for its next destination, which was Ponta De Madeira Port of Brazil.

It took me about 18 months to join after my first ship, I forgot many things, but my habit of writing daily work done in a notebook helped me recall many things that I learned during my training period.

That’s why I always recommend my juniors to make it a habit to write your daily work experience somewhere to recall them when required.

The best thing on that ship was the second engineer, and chief engineer were my seniors from DMET.

The second engineer was just 5 years senior to me in the college, and we share many common interests that helped me create a strong bond with him.

Some of our common interests include bodybuilding, yoga, watching movies, and, most importantly, working with discipline.

As long as he was on board with me, I used to go to my cabin just to sleep at night.

Let me tell you our daily routine,

The ship was UMS class, so our working hours were from 0800-1700 hours,

Our day starts with yoga and stretching exercises at 0600 hours; then, after the shower and breakfast, we go for work in the engine room.

Unless there is an emergency, we used to knock off the day at 1700 hours sharp, and we set a target to meet up in the gymnasium at 1715 hours.

Then we exercise up to 1830 hours and then go for dinner, after dinner, we used to watch one movie every day. And after that, we go to bed at around 2230 hours.

That’s how my daily routine was.

That ship got so many problems with the Mitsubishi purifier; for the first one month, I was busy with them only.

Almost every day, I used to open one or the other purifier bowl as we recently got some duplicate spares from some vendors.

When I first opened the purifier bowl by myself, it took me the whole day to open and clean it, and after doing the same job for so many times, the time got reduced to 5-6 hours for a complete overhaul (from disassembly to trying out)

You can read about the overhauling of Mitsubishi purifier (bowl routine) by following the link.

On the same ship, I did a complete overhaul of JP SAUER and SOHN air compressor, which was a 3 stage air-cooled compressor.

I took bunkers three times in that contract and learned a lot more about generators and Auxiliary boiler on that ship.

I signed off from that ship after five months and 20 days and continued helping my mother with her YouTube channel.

Second Ship as Fourth Engineer

After waiting for six months at home, I was offered to join the same ship once again.

This time I had so many questions in my mind regarding joining the same vessel back to back. I was thinking like

  • I will have the same cabin once again; will I get bored this time?
  • I already know everything about the machinery and pipelines, what new will I learn this time?

And many other doubts like this

But I was completely wrong at my second point, 

It was easy to start as I already knew the location of machinery, pipelines, spares, etc. but I was wrong that I will not learn anything new by doing the same ship again.

From my experience, I can tell you that no matter how many times you work on the same ship, you will come across different types of problems in the same machinery every time.

And life becomes a lot easier on repeating the ships or doing sister ships, it feels like our own home where we knew the location of almost everything from the very first day itself.

On the second ship, I did a complete overhaul of Mitsubishi purifier (both horizontal and vertical shaft). You can read the procedure by following the link.

We faced many problems in generators, main engine, incinerator, and boiler, which made me confident in getting promoted to the rank of third engineer.

I did 7 months this time, which completes my sea time to appear for MEO class 2 as well.

Third ship as Fourth Engineer

I returned to my home, and due to some reasons, I wasn’t able to appear for my MEO class 2 exams this time.

Actually, I have invested the money constructing my house due to which I had to inform the company for an early joining.

Unfortunately, that company didn’t have any vacancies for fourth engineer at that time. Neither they were willing to increase my salary, nor were they agreeing to promote me to third engineer without clearing class 2.

So due to my financial reasons, I switched to another company, which promised me to promote on board, and also increased my salary.

Within a few days, I got the confirmation of joining the vessel from Hay Point, Australia.

I was very excited to join the new ship as I was doing the same ship for the last two contracts, and I also got great news from the new company that I will be joining the vessel via helicopter.

The experience of joining via helicopter was terrific; this ship was also a cape size bulk carrier.

This ship got Westfalia Purifier installed for oil purification, which was a new experience for me. Moreover, this ship was much older and not very well maintained, which helped me learn new stuff.

I worked as a fourth engineer on this vessel for five months, and after that, I got promoted to the third engineer.

I did ten months on this vessel. This contract was very exhaustive, and in the end, I was literally dying to get relieved by someone.

PRO TIPS for Fourth Engineers

Here I would like to share some tips to become a successful engineer on board

  1. Be proactive in learning new things.
  2. Show interest in others work especially third engineer’s work,
  3. Try to write down your daily experiences in some diary to recall them later in life,
  4. Try to read manuals whenever you get time, and try to explain the procedure to your junior engineer if present on board,
  5. Never hesitate in asking your doubts with senior engineers,
  6. Never lie with your seniors, no matter how big mistake you do,
  7. Be polite with everyone on board,
  8. Don’t fight or indulge in politics with other crew members. As one or the other day, you will get caught, and after that, you will regret doing it.
  9. Start learning about deck machinery. The best way is to follow the second engineer whenever he goes on deck for any work,
  10. Always try to complete the tasks given to you before time.

Wrapping up

That was my experience on three ships as a fourth engineer. I hope you enjoyed reading it, 

Kindly share this with your friends and do let me know in the comment section about your experiences on-board ship.

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