What Are The Duties Of Third Engineers On Ships?

Nobody starts as an expert, everybody came from the starting line in doubt, with too many queries and with little knowledge or so. This is also the same onboard ships but as we climb the ladder and learn more knowledge, we also earn ranks as well as responsibilities that are tied to it.

Third engineers are responsible for the maintenance and operations of most of the pieces of machinery of the vessel. Machineries assigned to the third engineer are boilers, fuel oil purifiers, generators, and air compressors. Aside from this, they will also be reporting directly to the second engineer and carrying out the jobs that will be given to them.

Moreover, they will be working closely with the chief engineers and second engineers, especially when brainstorming ideas to create a solution for troubleshooting machineries. Third engineers are also in charge of watchkeeping duties, especially during operation, and must be able to have swift decisions when emergency situations arise.

Third engineers should also communicate with other engineers and deck officers and tackle issues that may come up during normal operations. Furthermore, they should be updated by the company’s bulletins and circulars in particular of technical fields.

As we go further into this article, we will know what are the duties of third engineers and what skills they need to hone in order to have an efficient time inside their service onboard.

Third Engineer Duties and Responsibilities on Ships

Third engineers have a broad area of responsibility to attend to. This includes the following:

  • Maintain the specified fuel oil viscosity/temperature inlet to the fuel oil pumps.
  • Monitor the exhaust gas temperature of the generators as well as the lube oil temperatures and pressures. They also check the differential pressure of the fuel and lube oil filters.
  • Do water quality tests for low-temperature and high-temperature cooling systems as well as the boiler water treatment. Afterward, log the result to the forms issued by the company.
  • Perform soot blowing on the boilers. However, obtain first permission from the bridge before soot blowing.
  • Test all emergency equipment, lifeboats, emergency generators, bilge alarms, emergency fire pumps, and fan dampers inside the engine rooms.
  • Maintain the level of the fuel oil service and settling tanks and drain them for accumulated water daily.
  • Operate and maintain purifier parameters and temperatures.
  • Assist with major overhauls and repairs as required
  • Maintain oil levels to air compressors and check their running conditions.
  • Reporting any malfunctions to the chief engineers especially when it concerns the seaworthiness of the ship.
  • Monitor the fuel supply and make a bunker plan to order ahead the needed fuel for the voyage intended.
  • Generating reports for the end of the month that needs to be submitted to the company.
  • Maintains the engine logs and records operational data about the fuel consumption, machinery performance, and maintenance schedule for the voyage.
  • Updating inventories and ordering spares that are needed for the scheduled maintenance.

Third Engineer Jobs, Machinery Maintenance And Reporting

Third engineers are responsible for keeping the engine room to its full potential. They check everything from gauges to oils to sump tanks, abnormal vibrations to excessive leaks, and engine performance to maintenance schedules of machineries. However, just like most ships, they also follow a working system in order to work efficiently.

Here’s the work system onboard:

Machinery Maintenance

Every month, the office sends pre-maintenance schedules that need to be sorted by the engineers in order to keep the machineries working properly. They check, overhaul and change some parts of the machinery according to what is stated on the PMS or when needed especially when it is worn out.

On most ships, the Planned maintenance system (PMS) is distributed according to what machinery they attend to. Most third engineers, attend the generators, fuel oil purifiers, boilers, and air compressors.

Examples of maintenance onboard

Before and after overhauling of fuel oil purifiers:

before overhauling of fuel oil purifiers
overhauling of fuel oil purifiers

Before and after overhauling of air compressor:

Before overhauling of air compressor
overhauling of air compressor

Moreover, after completing some of the tasks, they need to update the PMS in order to keep the records organize and up to date. This goes as well for the spare parts used. They should update the inventory on the system in order to know what needs to order for the next convenient port.

Here’s an example of an onboard Planned maintenance system (PMS)

Planned maintenance system (PMS) and jobs of third engineer
Planned maintenance system (PMS) and jobs of third engineer

Division Of Job Responsibilities

Jobs carried out by third engineers onboard should be overlooked by the second engineer. They are divided according to the manpower needed as well as the experience and technical capacity of the engineers.

This should be discussed before the work is done or during the engine toolbox meeting. This is to ensure that the jobs will be done safely and efficiently according to the plan.

End-of-the-month Reports Performed by Third Engineer

            Reports should be generated by the third engineer each month and to be sent to the office. Here are some of the reports to be submitted:

  • Critical spares inventory
  • Critical special tools inventory
  • Gases inventory
  • Chemical inventory
  • Lube oil inventory
  • Main engine running hours record and performance report
  • Auxiliary engine running hours record and performance report
  • Motor and pump maintenance schedule report
  • Critical alarms test report
  • Boiler maintenance schedule and alarm test report
  • Air compressor maintenance schedule and alarm test report
  • Purifier maintenance schedule report
  • Heat exchanger maintenance report
  • Water test report
  • Lube oil test report

Third Engineer Skills Onboard Ships

Onboard ships, third engineers should have most of the following skills in order to have a successful stay during their contracts.

Technical abilities – every third engineer is required to have a strong technical background in order to be able to carry out maintenance and operate machineries onboard such as main engines, compressors, generators, boilers, purifiers, etc. Furthermore, they should know also how to read pipeline diagrams and trace lines as well as interpret mechanical drawings.

Leadership skills – third engineers should exercise leadership skills as they climb the rank, especially when the senior engineers are not around. They should know how to organize work and tasks for the crew as well as distribute responsibilities and look over the rest hours. 

Problem-solving skills – as third engineers face tough times, they should know how to troubleshoot problems that can be encountered on board, especially during emergencies. Decisions to be made should be at least technically precise and accurate in order not to create more problems. 

Teamwork – teamwork is very important onboard to finish the task assigned. They should be able to understand and communicate effectively with other crew members to carry out the job safely and efficiently.

Organizational skills – third engineers are responsible for the machineries that are assigned to them. This includes keeping an up-to-date inventory as well as keeping records of their last and upcoming maintenance. Furthermore, they should place orders for the lacking spares and repair kits in order to have them when needed.

Technological skills – as technology advances, third engineers should be computer literate as they make reports and submit them to the office. Also, they should know how to fill orders for spares, rest hours, and maintenance schedules on the computer.

Comprehension skills – as third engineers read manuals, they should comprehend what they read in order to operate or overhaul machineries safely and efficiently.

Summarizing the Roles Of Third Engineers On Ships

Being a third engineer is a challenging job for you need to exercise and overwhelm some skills like leadership, technical, problem-solving, and teamwork in order to finish the job within the time frame. In addition, the work onboard can be physically demanding because heavy objects need to be lifted most of the time. But despite the strenuous jobs onboard or the hotness inside the engine room, don’t forget to pause, relax and have fun for a moment. Through this, you can release stress once in a while.

Wallenius Marine - Meet 3rd engineer Klara Andersson