Author Topic: QE2 - her power plant; lighting, heating and all the rest of it  (Read 3911 times)

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Offline Twynkle

Sean - can you elaborate further?  I don't remember hearing about this... was propulsion lost, or just some electrical power?  Losing propulsion in the middle of the Atlantic wouldn't be much fun at all!

Still wondering about this....

What happened on QE2 when there were power outages, when 'the lights went out'?
There are many places on board where it could have been ok, I s'pose.

Did she have a supply of small emergency gennies?

Complete darkness is something I used to wonder about a lot as a child, memories of the enforced black-outs etc
I don't remember anywhere being completely dark on QE2...
And all those light bulbs on board, just the thinking of doing an inventory of the spares she will have carried is awesome!  

Offline Rod

QE 2 had 2 emergency generators on 2 deck aft. They supplied enough power for basic services 30% lighting a sanitary/fire pump, bilge pumps and the stuff needed to start it up again.
When  the ship was steam turbine, turbines had to be rotated by hand if we lost power so they cooled down evenly. Under normal shutdown conditions it would be done by electric motors. There would be no ventilation of any sort. ANYWHERE!
Once the cause of the blackout was established and fixed then the startup process would begin. As power became available then services would be bought back gradually. Wardroom fridge was one of the first things....kidding!
Never happened to me after we went deisel electric.
Usually in the event of a blackout non engine staff would volunteer to help where they could as temps in the engine room rose very rapidly and it would be 10 mins work ten mins rest. I do not miss that part of it.
Dont forget that the motor that supplied air to 1 boiler weighed over 3 tons...that took alot of gene power. No air...no boiler. I have seen them started on natural draught but that carried a big risk of explosions.

Offline Adam Hodson

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Once the cause of the blackout was established and fixed then the startup process would begin.

Hi Rod - What kind of things were the most common causes of blackouts?
"The QE2 is one of the last great transatlantic liners, and arguably the most famous liner in the world"

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Offline Rod

Sorry Adam I missed this.

Rough weather did it a couple of times. Because of the movement of water in the boilers ,,,sensors thought they were empty and shut down, human error, jellyfish, mechanical failure and Murphy's Law.

Offline Twynkle

Hi Rod,

Do you think it might be worth looking at the official procedures during a power outage 'back in the day…'?
Was it treated as if it was a Code 'something or other' - i.e did it mean waking the Chief, 'stopping all the valves', don't flush the WCs and/or other even more drastic measures?!
Hope this won't get me the sack  ;) !
Rosie

Offline June Ingram

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Was anyone ever stuck in an area during a blackout where it was pitch black ?
QE2 - the ship for all of time, a ship of timeless beauty !

Offline Rod

Rosie, to be honest, I cannot remember , the "Official" procedures after a blackout It has been over 40 years!!
A lot depended on how long the shutdown was and what caused it
If it was human error, and the person owned up, then you could start getting steam up right sway. Probably about 2 hours.
When  2 gennies were back on line and the ship was happily choo-chooing along, then a'c etc could be started and we would get back to normal.
It certainly meant "waking the Chief" but most ships staff would have been roused by the lack of noise and vibration. Of course the Engineers Alarm would have been pulled which would have rousted most of the Sports Deck Accom.
I told Deb when sh traveled in Sports Deck accom with me.......,if you hear the alarm, wake me if not already, then go back to bed. Do not go out into the corridor. She did....ONCE, she did not expect to be mown down by a herd of Engineers trying to get to the change room.
One of lifes great experiences!!
Yes some ( read a LOT) of valves had to be shut some of them would have to be reopened very shortly after, or, maybe a long time after depending on severity of shutdown.

To answer June, not really. you had emergency lighting which allowed you to semi-safely walk. Hopefull no bulbs in your area were burnt out, and also the anyone that had been working below floor level had put the floor back!

Offline June Ingram

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Thanks, Rod, for your reply and info !
QE2 - the ship for all of time, a ship of timeless beauty !

Online Chris Thompson

I remember a peculiar power outage whilst I was onboard, the circuit that held all the fire doors open cut out with no warning! There was one that dropped down vertically in the casino that made everyone jump! Fortunately nobody was under it at the time.

Offline Rod

They do hurt!

Offline June Ingram

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Do the fire doors close automatically in a power outage, or did that one drop unexpectedly ?
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Offline Thomas Hypher

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Do the fire doors close automatically in a power outage, or did that one drop unexpectedly ?

They were held open by electromagnets on the circuit Chris mentioned so they most likely would close in a blackout (also for safety's sake, say a major fire cut power in a section of the ship so to help contain it automatically). They are still held open by electromagnets today in Dubai at least along the One and Two deck passageways.

With regards to ending up in the pitch black, this wouldn't have happened in the passageways and other public areas of the ship either due to the emergency low level strip lighting, at least in QE2's later years at sea, designed to guide people to the nearest exit, powered by the emergency diesel aft as mentioned by Rod (it's exhaust pipe being visible even today in Dubai on the Starboard side) or by the emergency batteries if it wasn't available as per SOLAS rules.

SOLAS states the emergency diesel has to maintain emergency lighting and other essential, limited services for a set amount of time, the emergency batteries also have requirements although for less time and not as many essential services (not giving power to one of the ballast pumps for example unlike the emergency diesel). The emergency diesel and the emergency batteries having to come online automatically in the case of a blackout within 45 seconds again as per SOLAS. Emergency diesel start up sure does result in a lot of clag right where one is standing when it's tested for a flag state inspection on an oil tanker due to where it's situated and the access to it! The emergency diesel also has a red pull chord for stopping it in an abandon ship situation (fuel cut off).

For example as per her very detailed accident report: Costa Concordia's emergency diesel stopped supplying power less than a minute after it automatically started upon the massive loss of power, caused by her collision, due to an issue with it's local switchboard which had to be dealt with by one of the engineers using a screwdriver to maintain the connection, however the emergency diesel then had to be shut down repeatedly due to overheating which meant Costa Concordia would've had to have relied on her emergency batteries a decent bit which fortunately did their job.

The emergency batteries being banks of lead acid car type batteries having lugged quite a few old ones around on the oil tanker prior to their disposal ashore via service boat.

Also, passenger ships have had to have the low level emergency strip lighting for at least 25 to 30 years now, maybe longer. It is required to be periodically tested as I remember being done on QE2.

The emergency low level strip lighting is still intact throughout much of the ship today in Dubai (including in the stairways) although probably not functional anymore given her reversed emergency evacuation routes.

The lifejacket symbol in the cabins on the wardrobes glows pretty brightly in the dark, with other things likely to help someone find their bearings in their cabin in the event of a blackout unless there's a lot of thick black smoke coming in to their cabin. Once the cabin door is open the low level emergency strip lighting would then guide people to safety even in the event of thick black smoke such as in the case of MV The Calypso's serious engine room fire back in 2006 or so.
« Last Edit: Mar 19, 2023, 08:30 PM by Thomas Hypher »
First sailed on QE2 in August 2003 aged 6 years old. Last sailed on QE2 in July 2008. Last saw the seagoing QE2 in person from the decks of QM2, on QE2's last Transatlantic crossing (Eastbound tandem) in October 2008. Visited QE2 in her new life, in Dubai, in January 2020 and August 2022.

Offline June Ingram

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Many thanks, Thomas, for the information ! I appreciate it !
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Offline June Ingram

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Slightly off topic - on submarines, there are drills where crew have to find their way and complete certain tasks in total darkness. On QE2 or any liner/cruise ship, are any such drills required ?
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Offline Thomas Hypher

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Slightly off topic - on submarines, there are drills where crew have to find their way and complete certain tasks in total darkness. On QE2 or any liner/cruise ship, are any such drills required ?

We can use smoke generators (dry ice machines) to practice firefighting and casualty evacuation in zero visibility. In zero visibility we follow the left or right hand touch on the walls procedure (depending on our briefing) and the other hand on the shoulder of the person in the 4 person firefighting team in front of us to avoid getting ourselves in a bad situation (lost or worse). This is done in full firefighting gear including BA which means one has to shout to be heard! The level of no visibility is very disorientating and at times is very unsettling such as if one ends up not having grip on the person's shoulder in front for whatever reason. One will not see a door frame unless standing right next to it/on top of it almost scraping ones BA set on it when the visibility is really bad.

So far I've only done this zero visibility stuff in the simulator on land but it is done on ship, an example that sticks out to me being featured in "QM2: Birth of a Legend" when smoke generators were used in her Britannia Restaurant when the MCA were assessing the competency of her first ever crew by having them do a number of drills before she entered service.

All sailors have to practice this by law in the simulators on land even if they're part of the entertainment crew as part of the elementary firefighting STCW (among other basic STCW short courses every sailor has to do internationally), and onboard the ship the crew regardless of who they are (including rank) often have multiple roles onboard which for some will include being part of the firefighting contingent. This is regardless of being military or on a merchant ship, although the military including the RFA who are still civilians but in a military environment do some extra stuff such as damage control simulator training.

By law we have to practice a long list of drills on a regular basis otherwise this can be grounds for the ship being arrested for failing a flag state inspection for example (or one of the other types of inspections). There are also rules for how often the drills need to be practiced that take into account things like significant crew changes, as the drills are meant to keep us crew "current" after all and need to demonstrate we can work well together in an emergency situation despite crew changes.
« Last Edit: Mar 20, 2023, 05:09 PM by Thomas Hypher »
First sailed on QE2 in August 2003 aged 6 years old. Last sailed on QE2 in July 2008. Last saw the seagoing QE2 in person from the decks of QM2, on QE2's last Transatlantic crossing (Eastbound tandem) in October 2008. Visited QE2 in her new life, in Dubai, in January 2020 and August 2022.