A Lucky Blackout

[The below is my paraphrased version of the story of our blackout on board, originally taken from a Blog Post from one of our Engineering team]

During this story I was up in our server room with my shutdown procedure in hand, and laptop-at-the-ready, sweating bullets (despite our server room AC continuing to work just fine on emergency power), and praying that emergency power would hold up.  At one point early on,

For a Boat person, three words we don’t want to hear are “fire“, “flood“, and “blackout“!

The initial two you know, the latter is the point at which the primary generators close down, the ship goes dim, and all gear from motors, pumps, compressors, toilets and AC, to the hospital and network are dead. From the Engine Room all we hear is the far off sound of our emergency generator running and some spilling air, and we start to feel the brilliant warmth originating from machines that were once running decent and hot. The fans have closed down, the air is still, hot, and moist and sweat starts to stream increasingly and more down our faces. It is a decent time to search for compacted air spills when all else is tranquil, however that is for one another day.

Over the Saint Patrick’s Day weekend we started to experience some difficulty cooling our generators. Because of a blend of river water temperatures here in Douala, alongside mud covering our ocean suctions and a broken butterfly valve, our cooling water temperatures were raising. As we observed these issues we settled on the choice that on Monday night, when surgeries were done, we would plan a power outage on the Africa Mercy.

Normally we don’t want to blackout a ship intentionally, however sometimes it must be done. Correspondence between the Engineering Department and Medical, Deck, and different offices started quickly. Surgeries could be done around 6:00pm, PACU could be finished, and afterward guaranteeing patients were prepared and sheltered, all gave the 7:00pm target time a shot.

In typical activities the freshwater cooling from our generators goes into a plate heat exchanger on one side. On the opposite side we acquire river water. The warmth is traded by means of these plates ( which are known as a herring bone outline) and pumped  to go back into the waterway. The generator freshwater is then pumped back through the motors to evacuate warmth and the cycle proceeds. We have 2 of these units on board, yet the valve that was broken is on a typical line so the two units must be closed off.


Plate heat exchange principle with herring bone plate design              A Herring, or when smoked a Kipper, Yum


The Job Site:


We had the broken butterfly valve out of the pipework in 60 minutes. Because of the multifaceted nature of the pipework and the tight space, it was exceptionally hard to arrange every one of the funnels and spines to get the new part in. We were losing steam endeavoring to arrange it. We sent for some water, took a couple of minutes, and proceeded.

At long last, subsequent to pulling, jolting, and general wiggling about, the bolts were arranged.

We at that point detected an appreciated sight, Captain John was coming our direction, we were especially excited to see each of the exquisite containers of Gatorade that he carried, with water running off them from the warm air meeting the cool jugs. It was soooo cool and invigorating, we all said a big thanks to Captain.


We took care of the valve and pipework, tried for spills and started reestablishing power. It took us 6 hours from lights out to back to normal once more.

Gratefully, with our systems, power outages are uncommon and for those that asked “did you come here to black us out and make us awkward”, no, we’re simply giving you a decent seafarer encounter.

I thank the Lord for an incredible Engineering Department, men who go well beyond in such a significant number of ways to keep the Africa Mercy doing what she does every day, for an exceptionally understanding and strong Medical Department guaranteeing our patients are protected and to some degree open to amid the majority of this, and for our Deck Department for doing rounds everywhere throughout the ship and reacting to calls as required.

Much obliged to all of you,


1 Co. 15:58

Hence my darling brethren, be unfaltering, steadfast, continually possessing large amounts of crafted by the Lord, realizing that your drudge isn’t futile in the Lord.