Winch Failure – My experience

During departure/unberthing from a berth at Toronto, one of the aft winches and one of the mid ship winches failed at a critical juncture when some lines had already been cast off, and vessel was critically positioned . There was panic all around with vessel in awkward position and tugs not prepared to handle the situation. Pilot was on board and so it was obvious a panic situation.

Mooring winch – Picture by equipment4ship


Electrical officer was a young trainee who was working on his first vessel ,and obviously did not have the experience to handle such contingency. As C/E the entire onus fell on me to take on- the- spot, correct decision with a calm  mind. I immediately remembered from my past experience that only two out of each set of midship and aft deck machinery can be operated at one time. So it is important to use “enable” switches and “control” lever properly to avoid temporary failure.

Emergency operation of deck machinery is possible in case there is PLC failure or trouble with “enable” push buttons etc at local control stand. Such operation is possible by selecting PLC “failure” inside inverter panel. The required Deck machinery also needs to be manually selected in that case. This mode was utilized successfully  by me during the above mentioned  temporary failure due to possibly a wrong operation or a sticky “enable” switch.

Later discussed with all deck officers and crew about the proper use of “enable” switches, and modified PMS to include frequent maintenance/cleaning of switches and contacts of winches ,especially ones on deck. Needless to mention that switches/contacts on weather deck  are prone to faster deterioration due to their being exposed to elements and salt laden atmosphere .

My past experience saved the day for us ,and enabled us to avoid major embarrassment in front of pilot and onward reporting by him to port authorities ( which they often do secretly).

The value of experience sharing should indeed be realized by all and it should be our mantra in this day and age of wide diversity in types of machinery /systems used on board.

Experience contributed by – CE


Categories: Eng & Tech, Safety, Service experience

Tags: , ,

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