Saturday, 30 May 2015

HMCS PRESERVER: Machinery Control Room

The Machinery Control Room (MCR) is the central brain of the engineering systems onboard PRESERVER. Although critical systems such as the boilers and turbines can be controlled locally in emergencies (and the crew practices this regularly), the MCR provides better controls and information for the operators, making their jobs easier. 

Unlike the MCR in the modern HALIFAX class, or even in the IROQUOIS class just a few years newer than PRESERVER herself, this MCR is not automated and retains a high level of manual control over the systems.

The MCR is located on No.2 deck, on the port side of the main engine room.  

Steam turbine control panel. The windows look into the engine room.
The main engine control panel is on the starboard side of the MCR, and looks to starboard out through windows over the engine room itself. The circle in the centre of the panel is the main engine telegraph repeater that allows personnel on the bridge to communicate the desired engine settings. As I recall, the knob in the centre is turned to indicate the desired throttle setting, then pushed in to transmit that setting from the bridge to the MCR. As noted in a previous post, there is a second telegraph repeater located in the engine room to a position on top of the HP turbine, where the auxiliary throttle controls are located. This panel also provides controls for other equipment, such as the steering motors. The throttles for both turbines (plus the reverse turbine) can be set from this station.

The auxiliary throttle position on top of the HP turbine, and can assume control if this position is not available.

Boiler control panel.
On the port side of the MCR (and facing port), and forward of the engine panel, is the boiler control panel. Near the top of this panel are 5 circular data tracers - I'm not sure what each records, but "Funnel Cover On" are written on the covers over the second and forth tracers. Below that are the controls for the port and starboard boiler burners, with three burners per boiler. Along the bottom of this panel are various other controls for blowers and feedwater pumps. The operator at this station would monitor water levels and temperatures in the boilers and associated equipment.

There is a local control panel in the boiler room between the boilers that can be used to operate the boilers if necessary.

To the right of this panel, on the forward bulkhead, is an electrical switchboard. To the left (aft) of this panel, is the electrical control panel.

Main electrical control panel.
The power generation panel controls the distribution of electrical power throughout the ship, including the ship's five electrical generators: #1 (starboard) and #2 (port) diesel generators in the boiler room, #3 and #4 turbo-alternators (the steam generators in the engine room) and #5 which is the Solar Saturn gas turbine generator in the deckhouse forward of the bridge. Home to the electrician of the watch, this panel also controls the ship's synchronizing equipment (required to sychronize the power provided by multiple AC generators), and unlike the electrician's position in the destroyers and frigates, all load balancing is performed manually. All the dials and readouts are monitored by eye, and nothing is automated.  

The turbo-alternators, and the diesel and the gas turbine generators, all have their own local control panels, located in close proximity to each generator. 

As noted elsewhere, basic equipment controls are duplicated in local control panels, to provide redundancy in the event the MCR needs to be evacuated, or controls are otherwise interrupted or lost. The MCR would be the more comfortable location to work, though, and would put all the operators in the same compartment to allow easier communication between them. Otherwise, the operators at the local control panels would have to be tied into the ship's communications systems (assuming they weren't disrupted) and immediate communication would be more challenging.

As always, comments, corrections, and clarifications are most welcome. 

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Herring Fleet Abstracts

Over the last several years, I have looked forward to the spring not only for the warmer and more pleasant weather, but also the arrival of the fishing vessels of the herring fleet along the Halifax waterfront. The waterfront in winter is usually quite sparse, with few if any interesting vessels berthed in the downtown area that I walk along on my way to work, and even during the summer one is not guaranteed of an interesting sailboat or yacht to break the tedium. The herring fleet over the last few years has guaranteed at least a handful, if not more, of brightly coloured ships big enough to provide varied photographic opportunities - especially useful after a winter in which I felt I was suffering from some photographic withdrawal. In my case, because they are usually static and alongside when I pass by, I have tended to abstract and detail shots, rather than the more documentary shots that I would typically take of boats and ships.

An image from this year: Morning Star's hull is strengthened with these ribs near the stern. I like the angles and reflections. 
When I am passing by in the morning, it is often calm (or relatively so) in the shelter of the jetties, which makes good conditions for reflections on the surface of the water. In the case above, the red bottom paint shows through the white and blue reflections from the waterline and hull. I probably had to apply a gradient filter in post production of this image to balance, somewhat, the hull against the darker reflection. It also looks as though I may have used my thirds grid to help in composition.

I have also tended toward some minimalism at times, perhaps attempting my own take on Barnett Newman's "Voice of Fire" in the National Gallery in Ottawa. You know the one.

I could call this "Herring of Fire" perhaps. Maybe "Red Herring"?
I don't think anyone will be offering me millions of dollars for mine, though. If the National Gallery needs to use up their budget before government fiscal year end, though, please feel free to contact me - I could negotiate my price upwards to the necessary amount.

Looking back year over year, the same subjects appear in my photos, but there is always something different even when looking at other images of Morning Star:

Morning Star from last year, this time showing some rust, and her load markings, both of which are missing from the first image above.
A different angle on Morning Star again, this time with ripples distorting the reflection of her waterline. The red stands out better in the sun.
Sometimes the ship isn't as up to date on its maintenance and cleaning, and we get to add some green to the mix. Plus, roman numerals! Classy!
It is fairly easy to pick out the images that were taken on sunny days (like 3 of the 5 images above), but often the more subdued lighting of an overcast morning works just as well.

I don't always aim for the waterline - sometimes there are nice ropes and chains to add to the mix.

Occasionally I allow other floating objects to intrude on the image, in this case some tire bumpers.

Sometimes buoys and bumpers add to the colour mix.
In this case, drips from the ship's bilge pump disturb the waterline reflection.
I once took a series of photography night courses from a local instructor who likes to direct his lead-in lines to the various corners of his images. Occasionally (OK, maybe frequently) this crops up in my images as well, now.

Look, ma! Corners! Three of them!
Sometimes, it is interesting to see what different compositions you can get from the same area on the same boat. In this case, I demonstrate with three different angles on the prow of one particular red boat. I can't decide which I like the best.

Here I went for symmetry.
In this one I went for considerable negative space to the bottom of the image. And to heck with symmetry!
Here, I went for a corner..actually, three corners! Two aren't so obvious. I must have been careful with this one to get everything to line up! I also love the effect with the hourglass formed by the load line numbers as they reflect on the water.
My use of vignetting in post production of my images is perhaps most noticeable in the three images above. While software correcting for lens distortion removes vignetting, I often add it back into the image because I like it for some reason. Perhaps it draws the eye back to the centre of the image, when I choose to centre my subject.

Same area on a ship, but different colours this time. 
I will finish off this post with an image of one of the few wooden ships left in the fleet. I think the planking adds to the image by providing more texture, especially in this case where the ship has been chipped and repainted so many time. 

Most of the herring fleet is currently built of steel, but there is occasionally one or more holdovers from the days of wooden ships. It is perhaps fitting that her load line uses roman numerals. Otherwise, I went fairly minimalist for this one. The painted waterline is slightly underwater and is reduced to a thin white line.
I have applied similar treatments to other ships and yachts on the waterfront, but I will save those for another post.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Ex-HMCS CORMORANT - Still capsized

Work still continues on ex-HMCS CORMORANT, however, she is still capsized at the former government wharf in Bridgewater, NS. She isn't looking that much different this past weekend than she was back in March when I first photographed her predicament.

Here are four photos from the weekend for your viewing pleasure (and/or disgust):

Port forward quarter. 

From aft.

Aft port quarter.

Broadside view.
A Canadian Coast Guard launch is still present to maintain the pollution control boom, and I understand that work is progressing inside the ship to remove contaminants before they can enter the LaHave River. 

Saturday, 23 May 2015

HMCS PRESERVER: Boiler Room tour

In driving a ship with steam propulsion, the engine room and its steam turbines that I covered in my previous post are only one part of the equation. The other part, of course, are the boilers that produce the steam that drives those turbines.

Though not as large as the engine room (I estimate that the boiler room occupies only about 1/2 the footprint of the engine room, at least on No.3 and No.4 decks), the boiler room is still a large space spanning the full width of the ship. However, it is occupied mostly by the boilers themselves, so there isn't a lot of space left over.

The thermodynamics course in my first year of engineering at Dalhousie was one of the things that convinced me that Mechanical engineering wasn't for me, so please excuse my ham-handed descriptions of the steam making process.  

Looking from starboard to port aft of the boilers. The boilers face aft. The ATR is accessed to the left of this photo.
PRESERVER has two Babcock & Wilcox water tube boilers that generate steam for the consumption of the steam turbines. Each boiler consists of a water drum, combustion chamber, steam drum, superheater, economizer, and all the various tubing that transports the water and steam through the whole process.  

The boilers are situated port and starboard in the engine room, with the business end of the boilers (burners, etc) facing aft. Located between the two boilers are the two 500 kW diesel generators (a third Solar gas turbine generator is provided elsewhere in the ship for redundancy). 

Looking from port to starboard aft of the boilers. An open port to the port boiler interior can be seen just above the deck plates. 
The local control panel for the boilers is located between the two boilers, on the aft (right) side of the passageway, opposite the grey panels in the background of this photo. I have video of this panel, but not still photos for some reason.

Video capture of the local control panel, looking aft.
Also between the boilers, forward of this panel, are the port and starboard 500 kW diesel generators. The two grey panels in this photo are the local controls for the two diesel generators. The starboard boiler is in the distance of this photo.

The burner units can be seen on the face of the boiler.
Aft of the main boilers are two auxiliary (or bogie) boilers which provide steam when the ship is alongside, and it isn't economical to use the main boilers to provide ship's steam. When I was onboard in HMC Dockyard, the ship was receiving all her steam from the shore based supply, and the boilers were all cold.

Open boiler. 
The burners, several per boiler, are located on the face of each boiler. Fuel is injected into the combustion chamber of the boiler and ignited by the burners. Every night the burner tips are withdrawn and replaced, and steam is used to blow soot up through the exhaust stack.

Boiler interior, open for cleaning. The tubes can be seen in this photo.
At the time these photos were taken, the boilers had not been fired up for about a year, which has led to the debris falling down the face of the boiler interior and collecting at the bottom. This photo shows the tubes that run the feedwater from the water drum at the bottom of the boiler to the steam drum at the top.

Under the boiler room is the ATR (Auxiliary Turbines Room - I can't for the life of me think of what the "T" might stand for), which houses the main feedwater pumps. I believe the diesel fire pump below is also in this space.

I believe this is a diesel fire pump in the ATR.

Main feedwater pump in the ATR, under the boiler room.
Based on a quick read of some Wikipedia articles, like this one, the feedwater pump supplies water to the feedwater drum on the bottom of the boiler. Water then passes through the boiler's combustion chamber via water tubes, and enters the steam drum on the top of the boiler. Steam is drawn off the top of the steam drum, and becomes superheated courtesy of exhaust heat passing over the superheater. The superheated steam is then destined for the steam turbines in the engine room. PRESERVER's boilers also make use of an economizer, or heat recovery unit, which uses remaining heat from the exhaust stream to pre-heat the feedwater before it enters the boiler, thus increasing efficiency (by reducing the amount of fuel required to heat the feedwater) and reducing waste heat that goes up the exhaust stack. 

Looking down the ladder into the boiler room on our way out.
As always, comments and corrections are welcome.

Friday, 8 May 2015

HMCS PRESERVER: Engine Room Tour (Updated with corrections)

At the time of writing this, only two steam-driven ships remain in the Royal Canadian Navy: HMC Ships PROTECTEUR and PRESERVER. Indeed, these Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment (AOR) vessels were the last two RCN ships designed and built with steam power, and shortly after they were commissioned the RCN introduced new surface warships with all gas turbine propulsion (IROQUOIS class), and later a combination of diesel and gas turbine propulsion (HALIFAX class). Similar ships to PROTECTEUR and PRESERVER built today are most likely diesel powered.

Being the last steam-powered vessel remaining in RCN service in Halifax, and soon to pay off and be discarded, I was keen on photographing PRESERVER's engine and boiler rooms for posterity. While I have done something similar for the Y100 steam plant in the ST. LAURENT and subsequent destroyers, the ships I toured had been out of service for several years, and my camera gear was somewhat deficient. This time around, the commentary won't be as good, but at least the photos will be better. 

Entering PRESERVER's engine room from the Machinery Control Room (MCR) (which itself will be covered in a later post), I was greeted by one of the largest open spaces onboard ship (second only, I think, to the helicopter hangar):

Engine room looking forward and to starboard from #2 Deck level.
The two grey items in the centre of the photo above are the low pressure (LP) and high pressure (HP) turbines, respectively. The astern turbine is mounted within the LP turbine casing, and on the same shaft. The grey shape to the bottom right (both forward and aft of the catwalk) is the double reduction gearbox. Immediately port of the LP turbine on #3 Deck (main level) are the two evaporators that make fresh water for the boilers (of which I have video, but no still photography for some reason). Aft of the gearbox are the two 1000 kW turbo alternators (steam driven generators). 

Another view from Deck #2, from further to starboard. The HP turbine is top left.
Another view from Deck #2, from further to starboard. The LP turbine to the right. The evaporators are behind the piping in the centre of the image.
A view looking directly down on top of the gearbox, giving a better idea of its size.
In the photo above, you can see the two shafts coming out of the two turbines, and connecting to the gearbox. A single shaft exits the gearbox along the ship's centreline, below the platform at the bottom of this photo, which connected directly to the propeller shaft. The reduction gearbox is required to transfer power from the high speed turbines to the propeller. Steam turbines are at their most efficient at relatively high revolutions per minute (RPM), while a ship's propeller is most efficient a much lower RPM. In this case, the gearbox also combines the power from the two turbines, and transmits it to a single propeller shaft.

After taking these photos, I descended the ladder to the left of the image to Deck #3, which is the main level of the engine room.

The Joy pump  compressor supplies control air. I don't remember what it does, apart from make noise.  
Port turbo alternator, looking aft and starboard.
Under normal conditions, electrical power is provided via the two 1000 kW turbo alternators, which are located port and starboard at the aft end of the engine room. These turbo alternators are self contained (they have their own condensers), although they receive steam from the main boilers. 

Port turbo alternator, looking aft and to port.
It was one of these turbo alternators in PROTECTEUR that caught fire while she was sailing off Hawaii in 2014, leading to her (slightly) early retirement. A lube oil line burst, sending a mist of 150 psi oil up into 500+ degree steam piping causing it to ignite. The fireball went forward in the engine room, hampering fire fighting efforts and attempts to shut off the oil supply. It was a very unfortunate event, and the crew did well to save the ship with no loss of life.

At times when steam is not available, auxiliary power is provided by a diesel generator, and a Solar gas turbine generator up forward on main deck level. This auxiliary power is necessary to start the boilers, and bring up enough steam to start the turbo alternators and main engine when bringing the steam plant online, after which the diesel and gas turbine generators can be shut down (and kept in reserve for emergencies). 

Errr....a dooflicky. Don't remember what this is Located immediately starboard of the HP turbine are the main engine air ejectors, which "...remove air and non-condensable gases from the main condenser to create and maintain main engine vacuum". The tank to the right, with the John Deere logo, is a deaerator. Get it? Deere? Oh, dear.
Looking forward over the tops of the two steam turbines.
You can get an idea, from the photo above, of the rat's nest of steam pipes connecting the boilers to the propulsion turbines and the turbo alternators, the turbines to the condensers, and back to the boilers. As in any aging powerplant, the piping can get old and brittle, and sometimes leaks or breaks. The difference with a steam plant is that not only do you have to worry about fuel and lube oil lines breaking, but you also have to worry about the steam lines. It was explained to me that a corn broom could be used to identify steam leaks - it is waved in the air around a steam line, and if there is a steam leak, the escaping high pressure steam (at up to 865 degrees at 600 psi) will cut the corn off the broom like a knife. It doesn't bear thinking about what that would do to human flesh.

The HP turbine looking forward and to port. The springs on top of the HP turbine are part of the auxiliary throttles.
The steam turbines are normally controlled from the MCR, however, local controls are provided for the turbines in case control from the MCR is lost. The auxiliary throttle station is located at the forward end of the HP turbine.

Auxiliary throttle station looking to starboard. The telegraph repeater is the circle to the left of the clock, below what appears to be a SHINCOM panel.
The auxiliary throttle station provided manual control to both steam turbines, as well as the astern turbine. The local telegraph reports throttle settings ordered from the bridge, independent of the telegraph in the MCR - presumably throttle settings could also be transmitted by other shipboard communications, including SHINCOM, in the event the telegraph was inoperative. There are two red pipe handles, one of which can be seen to the left of the image, which are used to control the auxiliary throttles. 

Auxiliary throttle, with one of the pipe handles installed. The grey rod attached to the base of the throttle handle, below the red rod, is normally hanging down, but is flipped up to attach to the throttle itself in this photo.
The operator at this station would operate the red handle to provide the required revolutions ordered from the bridge.

Looking down on the gearbox at the aft end of the HP turbine, to starboard and aft.

The double reduction gearbox, looking forward and to port.

The gearbox, looking forward and to starboard. The platform bridges the propeller shaft.
Immediately behind the catwalk over the shaft is the thrust block, which transmits the propeller's thrust to the hull and presumably prevents that thrust from affecting the shock mountings of the gearbox and turbines. 
It was at this point during the tour that a classic (in my mind, anyway) miscommunication occurred. Knowing that the old steam DDEs had a way of stopping the shaft from turning when the ship was being towed at low speeds, to prevent the turbines from being turned backwards (or when the auxiliary inflatable stern seal is in place, see below), I asked if they had a "brake". Misunderstanding me, my ever helpful guide replied that "Yeah, at 10:00, we have soup if you want." Apparently, it is actually known as a "lock", and is placed on the shaft when needed.

(As an aside, I did get soup in the wardroom during a "break" in my tour. It was french onion, and it was delicious.)

Looking forward along the propeller shaft, with the gearbox in the background. The plummer block is the grey object around the shaft.
Looking aft along the propeller shaft.
Having a deep displacement hull, and only a single shaft, the propeller shaft leaves the gearbox and travels maybe 30 feet to the stern seal, which can be seen in the background of the photo above, where the shaft passes through the bulkhead. In that 30 feet, the shaft leaves the gearbox, passes through the thrust block, a plummer block (which supports the weight of the shaft), and then the stern seal or stuffing box. In the case of the stern seal leaking, there is an inflatable auxiliary seal that can be installed, but only if the shaft is stopped and not turning.

With PROTECTEUR laid up after her fire, and PRESERVER similarly laid up due to hull corrosion issues, the RCN will likely never have another steam plant in operation - these were the last two. And this is largely a good thing, as modern gas turbines and diesel engines are more compact, lighter, have higher power to weight ratios, require less manpower to operate, and are generally less hazardous to the crew. That said, there will be former and serving Navy sailors (and my guides were good examples of the latter) who will miss these powerplants now that their page in the RCN history books has been turned.

(Updated on 21 May with corrections to some equipment descriptions, based on comments to my Facebook post.)

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

70th Anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic: Service and Committal Ceremony aboard HMCS HALIFAX.

On Sunday, May 3, I was privileged to be able to tag along and photograph the service and committal ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic. Normally, this would occur onboard HMCS SACKVILLE, the world's last remaining Flower class corvette. For the 70th anniversary, however, they needed something a little bit.....bigger.
HMCS HALIFAX reflects on the still calm waters of Halifax Harbour before departure on Sunday morning.
HMCS HALIFAX is currently testing the new CH-148 Cyclone helicopter, and took time off from these duties to play host to the ceremony this year. Guests were escorted to the ship before 0900. Shortly before departure, Sea Cadets from RCSCC Swiftsure marched ashore to pick up the VIP guests: the ashes of the 29 veterans who were to be committed to the deep that morning.

Cadets from RCSCC Swiftsure gathered on the jetty with the ashes of veterans.
Cadets with containers of ashes marching on the helicopter deck.
The ashes were delivered to the quarterdeck of the ship, where they were arranged and covered with a white sheet for the voyage to their final resting place.

Second World War SACKVILLE veteran, Philip Clappison.
We were joined onboard by Second World War navy veteran Philip Clappison, who had served in HMCS SACKVILLE starting when he was 18. After HALIFAX departed the jetty, and backed out into the harbour, we headed south along the Halifax waterfront and took the western passage past George's Island. On our way, HALIFAX was saluted by ships in HMC Dockyard, as well as by personnel onboard HMCS SACKVILLE. Sailors onboard HALIFAX stood at attention as they received the salute.

The last corvette: HMCS SACKVILLE. Two personnel onboard salute HALIFAX as we pass by.
Sailors receiving a salute from a ship alongside in HMC Dockyard.
HALIFAX soon arrived at her station off Point Pleasant Park, and was joined by two Glen class Naval tugs, who helped HALIFAX maintain station. Ours was not the only ceremony going on that morning, and we could see marching personnel snaking their way to the memorial in the Park. 

Personnel marching to the memorial in Point Pleasant Park. The anchor from HMCS BONAVENTURE is visible on the shore in front of the line of people.
A CP-140 Aurora flying out of CFB Greenwood banks over the service in Point Pleasant Park.
As the ceremony proceeded on HALIFAX, another ceremony occurred ashore. Before our service could start, a wreath had to be placed.

Cdr Graham Roberts presented Philip Clappison with the wreath that he lay in the harbour, as Commodore (ret'd) Tino Cotaras looks on.
Padre Capt. Leonard Bednar during the service.
Padre Lt (N) Sebastien Dupont
During the service, the ship's bell was rung for each of the twenty-four RCN vessels lost during the Second World War, as well as for a representative 24 (of 73) merchant vessels lost, and finally for RCAF Squadrons that lost aircraft during the Battle of the Atlantic.

A Cadet rings the ship's bell.
The committal ceremony occurred after the main service. Families gathered on the ship's quarterdeck, and were handed the ashes of their relatives. 

Sailors pipe the ashes of each veteran as they pass over the side.
The ashes of Stoker Charles Dunbar pass over the side.
The containers of ashes were placed on the burial board, under a flag (either the RCN Ensign, or the Maple Leaf, depending on their service). When the appropriate time came, the burial board was elevated, and the ashes slid down and into the water. In the case of the above, I was quite happy to be present; Charlie Dunbar brought me along to my first of these services many years ago. I thought it was only appropriate that I should be there to photograph his final voyage.

A veteran is committed to the deep under the RCN Ensign.
In addition to being piped, military personnel onboard saluted as each veteran slid overboard.

Military personnel, including the CO and Cox'n, salute as a veteran's ashes are committed to the deep.
Once the committal ceremony was completed, HALIFAX was turned around, and she headed back to the jetty. 

Sailors tighten up HALIFAX's lines as she comes alongside.
I selected a sampling of my images for this blog posting, and probably still picked too many. If you are interested in seeing more, please visit my Smugmug gallery.

Hopefully I have not made too many faux pas with my terminology above!

Finally, thank you to the crew of HMCS HALIFAX for hosting the ceremony this year.