All About Marine Diesel Engines

By Steve Brand | May 5, 2018



The Basics

Marine diesel engines are a vital system in any vessel which has one installed, regardless of the size of the vessel. It is vitally important that you have an understanding of how these engines work and are able to fix any problems which occur when underway on a journey at sea. Knowledge of diesel engine operation and repair is highly important to any self-respecting mariner and, with the right instruction, can be readily learnt.

A Little History

The diesel engine was invented by none other than Rudolf Diesel, who was born in Paris in 1858 and died in September 1913 at the age of 55. Diesel was a German inventor and mechanical engineer. Because of the heavier, more robust construction requirements of the diesel engine it has never been widely used in the aviation industry but is ideal for other applications, particularly trains, boats and ships.

Diesel Engines In The Shipping Industry

Both 2-stroke and 4-stroke diesel engines are used in the marine industry. On large ships, 2-stroke engines are usually used for propulsion while the higher speed 4-stroke engines are more suited to providing auxiliary power. This is because a 2-stroke engine has higher torque at lower revs-per-minute than a 4-stroke engine. 4-stroke engines are, however, suitable as propulsion systems for smaller vessels.

How Do They Perform?

Modern marine diesels are very efficient and dependable but they can still go wrong and require good maintenance. One major cause of marine diesel engine failure is exhaust related malfunctions where salt water can end up inside the combustion chamber and and the engine comes to a standstill. You will also need some very strong batteries to crank a marine diesel engine to get it started.

Diesel engines in general do not need a large supply of water and do not take very long to warm up in relation to other types of engines. One of the main differences between a diesel engine and a petrol engine is that the ignition of fuel in the cylinder head is achieved by compression of air, instead of a spark plug.

Take A Good Course

Seahaven Maritime Academy, located at the Port of Newhaven in East Sussex, is the ideal place to learn about marine diesel engines. Our RYA Diesel Engine Course will give you an awareness of how a marine diesel engine works, with particular attention to the fuel and cooling systems. You will be shown how to take simple measures to prevent mechanical breakdown at sea, and rectify defects which do not require workshop support.

Click here to read more about marine diesel engines and book yourself a place on our RYA Diesel Engine Course.

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About The Author

Steve Brand
Managing Director

Steve is a highly experienced instructor with a long and impressive track record in safety-critical working environments. Training is much more than a job for him, it is a vocation and his dedication and care for his valued students is second to none.


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