Marine Engineering involves the design, construction, installation, operation and support of the systems and equipment which propel and control marine vehicles, and of the systems which make a vehicle or structure habitable for crew, passengers and cargo.
Marine Engineering is allied to mechanical engineering, although the old marine engineer requires knowledge (and hands-on experience) with electrical, electronic, pneumatic, hydraulic, chemistry, control engineering, naval architecture or ship design, process engineering, steam generation, gas turbines and even nuclear technology on certain military vessels.
Marine Engineering on board a ship refers to the operation and maintenance of the propulsion and other systems such as electrical power generation plant; lighting; fuel oil; lubrication; water distillation; air conditioning; refrigeration; and water systems on board the vessel. This work is carried out by Marine Engineering Officers, who usually train via cadetships sponsored by a variety of Maritime organizations. There are also training centers at post-secondary institutions that offer marine engineering programs, such as Autonomous Underwater Vehicle research; Marine renewable energy research; and careers related to the Offshore Oil and Gas extraction and Cable Laying industries.
2. Historical of Marine Engineering Trend
In or about 1712,Thomas Newcomen, an enterprising blacksmith from dartmoor,England, successfully developed a rudimentary steam engine for pumping water out of mines. This engine consisted essentially of a single-acting piston working in a vertical open-topped cylinder. The piston was packed with hemp since the state of the metal-working art was very primitive, and a tolerance of about one-sixteenth inch out of round or “the thickness of a thin sixpence” was about the best that could be expected. The piston was connected to one end of a rocker arm by a chain without a piston rod or guide. The differential working pressure was derived primarily from the vacuum that was created below the piston by water spray into the steam space at the end of the upstroke. The steam and the water valves were worked by hand. Some 60 years later, radical improvements were made by James Watt, whose name is more frequently associated with the early development of the steam engine. In the course of time, numerous other improvements followed, of which the most important was probably the double-acting inverted vertical engine, which proved to have so many advantages that it continues to have applications
Accounts of the work of men such as Newcomen, Watt, and others in connection with the invention and development of steam engines are truly exciting. Despite the earlier development of steam engines, their application to the propulsion of ships was not seriously undertaken until about 1974. attempts to adapt steam engines to ship propulsion were carried out almost simultaneously in America, Scotland, and France. At least seven reasonably practical steamboats were developed by 1807.
Although paddle-wheel vessels were promptly adopted for river service, twelve years elapsed after the launching of the Clermont before the steamer Savannah made the first ocean voyage from America to Europe. Notable, however, is that even in this instance the machinery was not operated continuously during the outbound leg of the trip and the inbound leg was made under sail.
The introduction of the screw propeller in1837 was a revolutionary development, but this development also did not immediately lead to the demise os sail or paddle wheels. As late as 1860 the speed of the best clippers still exceeded that or any steamship, and the greater part of the work at sea continued to be accomplished under sail.
By 1893, when the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers was founded, a screw propeller, driven by a triple-expansion reciprocating steam engine, had become the predominant means of propulsion for seagoing ships.
The decade from 1893 to 1903 was a period rich in marine engineering development. They early reciprocating steam engine reached the point of development of the six-cylinder quadruple-expansion engines of 10.000 indicated horsepower supplied with steam at 200 psi by Scotch boilers.
By the end of 19th century, ship’s propulsion plants had become sufficiently reliable to assure the delivery of cargo to any port in the world, but often at great cost to their crews. Mechanical ventilation had not been developed, and those who shoveled coal commonly developed black lung.
The development by Sir Charles A. Parsons of the first successful application of the steam turbine to marine propulsion was another important milestone in marine engineering. This was accomplished aboard the Turbinia, a small vessel about the size of a torpedo boat. In what must certainly be considered one of the earliest efforts at model tank testing of propellers, Parsons investigated the subject of cavitations and succeeded in redesigning his propellers.
Before 1893, there were a number of attempts to develop internal-combustion engines that involved fuels ranging from gunpowder to gas. One of these was of a radically different atype, in which the combustion air charge was compressed to a pressure and temperature above the ignition point of the fuel. This engine was patented in 1892 by Dr. Rudolf Diesel, a German engineer. The challenge to the coal-fired, low-pressure reciprocating steam engine came from the steam turbine and the diesel engine a about the same time, at the turn of the century. World War I caused a greater emphasis to be placed on marine engineering developments for military applications, while in the merchant marine arena the mass production of proven designs was emphasized. However, advances in the design of steam turbines and diesel engines were made.
The next major development in marine engineering history began a few years after World War II. Under the direction of Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, the submarine Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear power. Nuclear propulsion revolutionized the design of submarines by allowing them to remain under water for extended periods of time. For surface ships, however, nuclear propulsion has received mixed reviews. The U.S. Navy has successfully used nuclear propulsion for aircraft carriers, starting with the Enterprise in 1962. nuclear propulsion provides aircraft carriers with an unlimited range and the ability to carry more aviation fuel and weapons than conventionally powered carriers.
Exploratory applications of nuclear propulsion for commercial ships by the United States in 1959 (Savannah), Germany in 1968 (Otto Hahn), and Japan in 1974 (Mutsu) failed to establish commercial opportunities for nuclear propulsion.
The historical developments noted in the foregoing, as well as many others, were magnificent concepts and achievements, especially when viewed against the technologies and materials available at the time. No effort has beeb made here to include the full roster of great names and pioneering events in marine engineering.