Down in the depths

In the hull of the Africa Mercy dwells a distinctive and brilliant species of man. The engineer. Above board, we enjoy high quality facilities with aircon, lighting, hot water, lavatories, electicity and these computers. But below deck its another world- almost unbearably hot, unbelieveably noisy and seeingly dangerous. However, the team of engineers who keep the engines functioning  have adapted well to this life, led by Michael Z the chief engineer. Michael  takes on a dozen local boys from Lome to teach them the basics of engine maintenance and cleaning- for which they will recieve a certificate on leaving. The rest of the crew are old time professionals from companies like NedLloyd.

As Doctors and nurses undertake medical procedures above ground, Michael is doing just as complex a job below- I was quite taken back by the number of engines, compressors , filtres and generators required to keep the ship working- hundreds of dials, levers, pipes and computer screens check pressures, energy and flow. 10,000 litres of diesel are required each day to keep this ship functioning and it all flows through here, including a sophisticated sewage system. For the nerdy among you, the ship has 4 main engines and two shaft gear boxes, room for 1m cubic litres of fuel and 6 generators. Some of the items were made by FRISCH 30 years ago and due for replacement for the next 30. It throbs down there !

In August the ship leaves for Durban where it will be refitted with new generators and systems- they will rip out the side and remove what appear to be immovable generators, upgrade the airconditioning and enable the ship to reduce its fuel consumption by at least 20% and Nitrous oxide emissions. We’ll have a greener, more efficient Africa Mercy and a much quieter ship all round. This all needs a lot of money, do, please, visit website if you’d like to contribute .


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