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CL/TEC/07004
TECHNICAL
18/06/07
TROUBLES WITH PRIMARY SOURCES OF ELECTRICAL
POWER

Recently several failures of electrical generators and in one case prime mover occurred on board of our
managed vessels.
1. 47,000 chemical tankers
Several reports were received about unacceptable low insulation of generators.
One vessel reported low insulation of stator winding. First signs were noticed on 20.01.07, but
faultfinding was unsuccessful due to very short periods of low insulation. Finally, 22.02.07 they found
that the reason of low insulation on MSBD is Generator N1. The cause of low insulation in generator
could not be found immediately and suggestion was to the damage of windings. However further careful
inspection by crew shown damage of cable's insulation in terminal box (caused by friction), which was
rectified by crew 28.02.07.

Fig. 1Damaged cable insulation in the terminal box of generator.

Sister vessels were informed about the problem and requested to carry out unscheduled inspection of
their generators. All involved vessels reported that inspection was done, however another sister vessel
reported that from 22.03.07 they experience problems with low insulation, which was normal on
stopped generator or running idle, but low insulation appeared while loading at the level about 350 kW.
Again crew failed to find the reason immediately, but after all possible parts were removed from the
generator for the most close inspection on 30.03.07 it was revealed that air guide wall (situated on the
drive-end side) loosen and have touches with stator winding. It was secured back by means of point
welding with necessary precautions, and generator put back in operation.

Fig.2 Secured air guide wall


Inspection on sister vessel revealed the same defect, which was rectified in advance prior complete
failure of generator.
Another vessel reported about low insulation indication on MSBD and failure of excitation system on
one of the generators. Damaged parts were replaced by spares available onboard and generator put back
in operation.

Fig.3 Damaged transformer of excitation system


One of the reasons of damage crew reported as poor soldering quality of wires and due to this the main
cause due to loosen wires on terminals.
The last two cases described above clearly shown that even after request for unscheduled close
inspection of generators and establishing of proper maintenance and supervision on generating sets, this
task was carried out mostly in formal way, without proper attitude from the crew.

2. LNG carrier
One of our LNG carriers experienced blackout due to failure of steam generating plant and therefore
turbo alternators were shut down. Vessel is equipped with stand-by diesel generator and emergency
diesel generator.
Stand-by diesel generator was started, however generator was not excited. Arrangements were done for
power feedback from ESBD to MSBD in order to start boiler plant. Further faultfinding of diesel
generator shown that one wire for field winding burnt due to loosen contact on terminal.

Fig.4 Damage caused by loosen terminal.

Operation of diesel generator was restored, other generators on this and sister vessel were inspected and
connections re-tightened.

3. 159,000 oil tanker


During routine inspection of ER in UMS period, Duty Engineer noticed wrong load sharing between
working generators N1 and N2. Attempts to share load manually by means of regulators remote control
on MSBD and locally from regulating knobs on Woodward are failed. Stand by diesel generator N3 was
started and connected. The following load sharing was achieved: AE N1 about 480 kW, AE N2 and AE
N3 about 200 kW (unstable) each. Frequency started to rise and reached 62.5 Hz. Decision was taken to
disconnect ACB of generator N1 manually, in order to avoid blackout caused by high frequency trip.
After generator was disconnected, overspeed protection activated, however fuel rack was kept by
jammed governor and engine continued to run. Two minutes later AE N1 was stopped by means of
closing fuel supply.
Internal inspection of engine revealed the following damages: cylinder liners N1 and N3 had broken
lower edges, pistons 1, 3, 6 damaged, cylinder heads 1, 3, 6 had surface damages, including intake and
exhaust valves, crankcase filled with water from cooling system.

Fig.5 Damaged liner

Fig.6 Damaged piston

Fig.7 Cylinder head


After investigations vessel reported the damage reason as failure of governor Woodward UG8.

Fig.8 Governor of prime mover

However mentioned mechanical failure could be only the reason of malfunction and such serious
damages to the diesel engine could be avoided if crew properly assessed the consequences of their
actions.
4. 72,000 tanker
This vessel is equipped with microprocessor controlled air circuit breakers. Recently she reported
problems with one of the circuit breakers. Generators N1 and N3 worked in parallel, after load was
transferred to generator N1 and generator N3 was disconnected, blackout occurred. Investigation shown
that generator N1 was tripped due to overcurrent (current in each phase was about 1900A, while setting
for protection is 1200A), although load did not exceed 500 kW. After further investigation it was noted
that measuring device of ACB shows incorrect values of measured current, twice more than real, but
source of trouble was not determined. From this time generator N1 was not able to operate in stand
alone mode.
Five days later Micrologic controller was removed from ACB for further investigation, and after
reinstallation back it was found that currents being measured correctly. The reason of troubles was
defined as bad connection between Micrologic unit and measuring circuit.

Actions to be taken:
- Unscheduled inspection of generators should be carried out, all connections to be re-tightened, proper
securing of all cables and internal components to be verified. Job C41-01-AE to be reported and
properly logged.
- Electrical generating equipment is recognized as critical equipment, therefore it should be maintained
and operated properly. Periodic maintenance and regular supervision of generator sets should be
established onboard, under control of Chief Engineer. Inspections and maintenance should include both
windings area of generators (through available openings) and terminal boxes.
- Training with Engine staff regarding operation and control of generating plant in emergency situations
to be arranged. Every Engineer Officer to be familiar with manual operations required for
synchrozing/connection/disconnection of generators and to be aware about consequences of improper
actions.