Saturday, 4 April 2015

HMCS IROQUOIS: Machinery Control Room

Having shown photos of many of the primary machinery systems throughout the ship over the last few weeks, I will finally cover the Machinery Control Room (MCR) that I have mentioned frequently in those posts. Located above the engine room (or Main Machinery Room - MMR), the MCR is the nerve centre that controls all primary mechanical and electrical systems on board the ship. 

Among other things, the MCR houses 3 multi-function display (MFD) and control positions, the main electrical switchboard and electrical control panel, auxiliary helm position, and HQ1 which is the primary damage control headquarters. 

It should be noted that, though I have received help from more informed individuals, some of the details I provide below will be educated (and possibly non-educated) guesses as to the purpose of the various positions and pieces of equipment, so corrections and comments are welcome. Errors are my own.

Looking forward at the three multi-function display and control positions.
I presume the three multi-function stations can be configured to control various functions of the ship, everything from water, fuel, and ventilation systems to fire pumps and mains, low and high pressure air systems, and equipment alarms. The forward position (3 MFDs) is the Machinery Control Console (MCC) where the MCC Operator sits, the middle position is called the Supervisor's Console (SC), and the after MFD is the Maintainer's Panel (MP) which is dedicated to maintenance functions (it was setup to monitor the low and high pressure air systems on board ship during my tour). The forward positions (MCC and SC) include propulsion controls, while the MP does not.

In total, there are four positions in the ship that provide propulsion control: the Bridge Console (BC) adjacent to the helm station, the MCC and SC positions in the MCR, and the Local Operator's Panel (LOP) located in the engine room between the two main turbines (see my previous post on the ship's propulsion systems).

The SHINCOM (Ship Integrated Communications) panel to the bottom left of the photo is labelled as for the main switchboard operator, the electrician of the watch. This is part of the SHINCOM 2100 system developed by Canadian firm DRS Technologies in cooperation with the RCN, and has been used by several other Navies including the US Navy. SHINCOM panels can be found throughout the ship, and there are at least three in this photo (including the MCC and SC panels seen in the background of the photo if you know where to look). In the IROQUOIS class, there is a ship's telephone system that is used for most communication within the ship, and SHINCOM is used for specialized tasks only. SHINCOM was introduced during the TRUMP refit.

MCR Operator (left) and MCR Supervisor (right) positions at the forward end of the MCR.
In the photo above, the SC MFD is currently displaying the status of  the fire pumps and mains.

MCC Operator position.
In the photo above, the left MFD is set to an alarms overview, with the middle and right MFDs currently blank. The main and cruise propulsion turbines would typically be started and controlled from this position, though I was told that the LOP in the engine room is typically manned as a backup when the engines are started. 

The Electrician of the Watch's position.
The Electrician of the Watch sits in front of the Electrical Control Panel, from where the ship's power is regulated: from shore (if alongside) and the four generators (three Solar Saturn gas turbine generators (#1 through #3), and one diesel generator (#4)). To the right is the main electrical switchboard (400 Hz and 26V DC panels), and to the far back right of the photo is the MCC Operator position.

Electrical Control Panel.
The electrical control panel provides control over the four generators on board the ship, as well as the synchronizing of the phasing of the power from each generator. The panel to the left of the photo houses the breakers for the aft electrical buses. 

The starboard & aft end of the MCR space is called HQ1, which is the damage control (DC) headquarters. This is where all damage control measures within the ship would be directed from in the event of accidental or combat damage, although there are also some redundant DC spaces within the ship.

Damage Control looking starboard and aft.
The three panels along the back wall, from left to right, are the Smoke Evac panel, the Liquid Level Management System (LLMS), and the Fire Detection, Suppression, and Control (FDSAC) panel. The latter is an automated alarm panel, where warning light buttons are superimposed on deck plans of the ship. If an alarm sensor (e.g. a smoke sensor) goes off somewhere in the ship, the associated button will light up and presumably make an audible alarm. The button can be pressed to silence the alarm. The LLMS is an inventory of various fuel (diesel for the turbines and JP5 for the helicopters) and domestic water tanks aboard ship, with gauges for each tank, and it is divided up into port/starboard and fore/aft tankage.

Damage control looking port and aft.
In the photo above, the FDSAC is now at the left of the image, and a dry erase board with ship deck plans is in the centre. The auxiliary helm station, which I did not get photos of, can be seen peaking out from behind the bulkhead to the right of the image. This helm station is similar in appearance to the one on the bridge, but "...with way less buttons...".

The MCR was a new concept to Canadian warships, as I believe no such space existed on the previous generation of destroyers. All machinery controls in the ST. LAURENT derived ships were located in close proximity to the equipment they were associated with, and indeed, those controls remain on IROQUOIS to a certain extent to provide redundancy in the event that the MCR is incapacitated or cut off. Indeed, the necessity for redundancy in these controls was reinforced during the HMCS KOOTENAY gearbox explosion of 1969, where the ship continued to race along at full power because the crew was unable to immediately cut of the flow of steam to the main engines as there was no remote method of doing so, and the engine room itself was engulfed in smoke and flame.

When originally built in the early 1970s, the machinery controls provided in the MCR were state of the art. Obsolete by the time of the TRUMP refits of the early 1990s, most of the equipment in this space was replaced with new digital equipment such as the MFD positions (though I suspect the Electrical Control Panel and Main Switchboard are more or less original, at least in appearance). As the ship's are paid off (with only ATHABASKAN left in active service at the time this post is written), the equipment is once again obsolete. In an interesting comparison to the HALIFAX class frigates, which are currently undergoing their own mid-life refits, their once state of the art MCR equipment is similarly being removed and replaced with the latest and greatest, which should get them through the next 20 years. I will cover HMCS TORONTO's original MCR room in a later blog post.

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