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VIKING SKY Engine Problem

Posted: Wed Mar 27, 2019 1:35 pm
by jimh
The cruise ship VIKING SKY was in serious trouble recently when it lost propulsion power in rough seas while transiting a dangerous coastal area. The incident has received global notice. According to a report on GCAPTAIN, the ship was able to set an anchor about 1.2-miles off the shallow and rocky coast of Hustadvika after coming to within 0.6-miles, based on an AIS track.

A release from the Norwegian Maritime Authority [This link is now working--jimh] cites the cause of the engines shut down to be loss of oil pressure. The suspected reason for loss of oil pressure is from a "relatively low" level of oil in the lubricating oil tanks combined with sloshing of the oil from the motion of the ship in rough seas, causing the supply of oil to the engines to be stopped. Lack of oil triggered an alarm in the engines and caused an automatic shutdown of the engines.

The ship owners have announced they will review their procedures with an aim to prevent this from happening again.

This incident brings to mind a somewhat similar incident on a smaller scale where propulsion was lost in rough seas. My good friend Don J was piloting LUCKY TWO, his recently purchased 25 WALKAROUND that was then re-powered with twin E-TEC 250-HP engines. He was in the North Channel of Lake Huron, heading west into some head seas. He lost propulsion on one E-TEC engine. The cause was determined to be due to clogging of the fuel filter from debris in the fuel supply. The diagnosis of the cause was existing sediment in the fuel tanks was agitated by the boat's motion in the rough seas, and the sediment then mixed with the fuel and was pulled into the fuel lines. The RACOR external fuel filters stopped the sediment from reaching the engine, but they also stopped the fuel from passing through the filter as well.

Both incidents demonstrate that when sea conditions are rough, unexpected problems can occur. The causes may be pre-existing conditions that were just not detected or not revealing themselves in normal operation.

Re: VIKING SKY Engine Problem

Posted: Wed Mar 27, 2019 2:10 pm
by Phil T
Norwegian Maritime Authority article - ->

Here is the translated NMA security message:
Safety report on risk assessment of critical systems

A cruise ship got a blackout at Hustadvika on Saturday 23 March in difficult weather conditions.

What we can so far conclude is that the direct reason why the vessel's engines stopped was low oil pressure. The level of lubricating oil on the tanks was within set limits, but relatively low, as the vessel went out to Hustadvika. The tanks were equipped with a level alarm - but these had not been triggered when the vessel went out to Hustadvika. The heavy sea at Hustadvika probably led to such large movements in mind that the lubricating oil pumps lost supply. This triggered alarm at low lubricating oil pressure, which in turn meant that the motors shortly after went into automatic shutdown.

The Norwegian Maritime Directorate asks all shipping companies to take the necessary precautions to ensure the supply of lubricating oil to engines and other critical systems under expected weather conditions. This should be done in collaboration with the engine supplier and taken in as part of the ship's risk assessments in the safety management system.

References to relevant regulations:
Regulations 9 May 2014 no. 1191 on safety management system

{The English version is also available--jimh]

Having followed this event somewhat closely, I find this diagnosis very interesting.

Re: VIKING SKY Engine Problem

Posted: Wed Mar 27, 2019 5:02 pm
by jimh
The very large engines on these ships generally have very large oil reservoirs feeding them lubricating oil. The lubricating oil volume might be on the order of thousands of gallons. The oil is being constantly filtered and recycled. The information disclosed in the press release seems to imply that perhaps the oil reservoir tanks were being maintained at a level that had in the past been sufficient, but with the conditions experienced and the motion on the ship that existed, the oil pick-up tubes may have been sucking air into the oil supply.

The same situation could occur on a much smaller boat undergoing some wild motions in high seas. Best to keep oil and fuel tanks more toward full than to run them close to the minimum level. It is much more difficult to add some oil to a reservoir while bouncing around in high seas than to add oil while tied to a dock in calm weather.

Re: VIKING SKY Engine Problem

Posted: Thu Mar 28, 2019 8:20 am
by floater
I wish my 1998 Tahoe had a low-oil shut off. The truck engine failed last week when the high pressure oil line popped off on the highway. A full rebuild is needed.

ASIDE to Jim--if your Suburban has the two remote oil lines that go to the passenger side of the Radiator I suggest removing them and installing the oil filter adapter that is available on line. It allows you to screw on a regular filter and saves any future headaches. Sorry not really boat related but oil related.

[Reply to aside: my 1995 GMC Suburban has the oil filter on the driver side and uses a conventional filter. The oil cooler lines are metal and run to the radiator on the driver side. I recently had those lines and the adaptor serviced; they were leaking oil.--jimh]

Re: VIKING SKY Engine Problem

Posted: Thu Mar 28, 2019 8:28 am
by Don SSDD
Sounds like they may have one oil tank supplying all four engines. I think I read this ship has four engines. Maybe the specification for oil supply on these vessels should be to have two oils tanks, each supplying two engines for redundancy.

These days all major corporations are trying to do more with less to enhance profits. I’m sure cruise ships will now be going to sea with more oil. Less oil didn’t work.

Re: VIKING SKY Engine Problem

Posted: Thu Mar 28, 2019 10:09 am
by Jefecinco
Are the engines "dry sump" lubricated?

BACKSTORY: I've worked on many land based large diesel engines and all had large crankcases which contained the engine oil. As these were stationary engines some models crankcases were baffled while others were not. The baffled crankcase engines were locomotive engines often used in stationary applications. If the ship engines are dry sump and they shutdown for low oil pressure due to low supply tank levels the lubricating oil supply system design is defective. I have never seen a control room operation and control system without low oil pressure and low oil level alarms set to initiate without a generous margin to allow corrective action well before the engine shutdown levels are reached. Another possibility is that the control room operator was absent, unqualified or disabled.

If the engines are not dry sump lubricated I would hope the crankcases are baffled for the purpose of ensuring oil supply to the oil pump. The crankcase design for ship propulsion engines should be designed specifically to supply oil beyond the tipping capability of the ship.

It will be interesting to read the investigators report on the incident. Meanwhile I'll see what I can learn about the ship propulsion system.

Re: VIKING SKY Engine Problem

Posted: Thu Mar 28, 2019 11:27 am
by jimh
Commercial ships are built to conform with ratings from classification societies. I am sure that the VIKING SKY had approved configurations for the lubricating oil system. But clearly something unanticipated occurred.

Re: VIKING SKY Engine Problem

Posted: Thu Mar 28, 2019 11:47 am
by jimh
After the incident has occurred, the question has arisen: should the ship have sailed in the face of such rough weather?

This is another example of the master of a vessel being under pressure to conform to a schedule. For the ship's master to decide to not sail would have exposed the ship line to possible expenses in compensation for the passengers aboard whose cruise would not have been as planned or as paid for. The master faced two risks: the risk of the ship making a passage in bad weather, and the risk that his superiors would reprimand him if the ship did not adhere to its schedule.

These same opposing interests affected the master of EL FARO. In that case the ship also tried to adhere to its schedule in the face of rough weather. EL FARO sailed into a major hurricane and sank, with loss of the entire ship and all hands.

The loss potential for VIKING SKY while transiting a lee shore in rough weather and adrift with no propulsion was enormous. That a catastrophe was avoided was miraculous. The master's decision to sail in rough weather will likely now be viewed in a very harsh light.

Re: VIKING SKY Engine Problem

Posted: Thu Mar 28, 2019 2:13 pm
by jimh
For a major cruise ship to lose propulsion is not unheard of. The very modern, very luxurious ship QUEEN MARY 2 lost propulsion on all four engines on September 23, 2010 while at sea and was adrift. About one hour passed before propulsion power was restored. After the accident was investigated, shipping classification societies were encouraged to make new recommendations to prevent such incidents from reoccurring.

Re: VIKING SKY Engine Problem

Posted: Fri Mar 29, 2019 9:48 am
by Jefecinco
So far I've been unable to find out how the engine lubrication system is designed nor how the engineering control system operates. IMO and SOLAS publish standards but they have so far been unhelpful.

A lot of basic information on the ship is available from Wikipedia. The following information is from the site.

Engines - 2 MAN 9L32/44CR @ 6760 HP each, 2 MAN 12V32/44CR @ 9010 HP each, 1 Isotta Fraschini V1712T3 @ 1860 HP.

The engine/generators supply 2 pods with 9720 HP motors each with a 15 foot 6 blade fixed pitch propeller.

The ship has two bow thrusters @ 3800 HP each and a 1900 HP stern thruster.

I did find that a typical engineering division has 13 person crew.

Re: VIKING SKY Engine Problem

Posted: Fri Mar 29, 2019 1:26 pm
by jimh
On the VIKING SKY there are just two electric propulsion motors. There are four diesel engine driven alternators producing AC power to operate the propulsion motors.The builder's information sheet describes the engines and generators in kW units.

Propulsion Electric Motors 2 x 7250 kW
MAN 9L32/44CR 2 x 5040 kW
MAN 12V32/44CR 2 x 6720 kW
Total installed el. power 23,520 kW

With 23,530-kW available, the two propulsion engines at full throttle consume 14,500-kW. That leaves a reserve of 9,000-kW. If one generator, either a 5,040-kW or a 6,720-kW, drops off line, there is still enough electrical power to run the propulsion engines at full power. If two generators go off-line, the worst case being the two big ones, that results in 13440-kW lost generating capacity. Now you can't run the propulsion engines at full power. If all four generators go off-line, well, that is clearly a big problem for the propulsion power.

Re: VIKING SKY Engine Problem

Posted: Tue Apr 02, 2019 2:22 pm
by jimh
What seems most odd: all four Diesel engines turning the alternators lost oil simultaneously. You’d expect the engines would have separate oil reservoirs, and not to be supplied lubricating oil from a common reservoir.

Re: VIKING SKY Engine Problem

Posted: Tue Apr 02, 2019 10:09 pm
by dtmackey
jimh wrote:What seems most odd: all four Diesel engines turning the alternators lost oil simultaneously. You’d expect the engines would have separate oil reservoirs, and not to be supplied lubricating oil from a common reservoir.

Or at least 2 systems, 1 for port and 1 for starboard engines. I would think redundancy is a good thin in the event of a mechanical failure or loss of an oil line.


Re: VIKING SKY Engine Problem

Posted: Wed Apr 03, 2019 1:15 pm
by jimh
Alternatively perhaps the four engines each had their own reservoirs and all four had the same problem at once due to the extreme roll and pitch motions in rough seas. Waves near shore and in shallow water are always higher, steeper, and more confused than waves far offshore in the same winds. Look up “waffle waves” or clapotis gaufre:

Re: VIKING SKY Engine Problem

Posted: Thu Apr 04, 2019 10:06 am
by Jefecinco
Automobile racing and the aircraft industry has taught us a lot about engine lubrication in virtually the worst conditions. When your aircraft is upside down the engine continues to demand lubrication and when you are cornering at 200 MPH oil is necessary. The answer is properly designed dry sump lubrication systems.