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Graig Wray

Marine Engineer

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Tinkering with engines may not be everyone's idea of fun, but for Craig Wray there is nothing he likes better. "When you don't have any breakdowns the sense of satisfaction is great because you know that you're doing your job well."

Craig has always had a passion for motors. After completing a fitting, turning and machinist apprenticeship at a freezing works, he moved to Nelson to get some experience at a marine-engineering firm before going to sea.

At-sea marine engineers usually work 12 hours a day for up to eight weeks at a time, and Craig says a lot of the work revolves around preventative maintenance. "You might be cleaning sea strainers and transferring fuel so you don't run out or servicing and generating the engines, as well as keeping written records of what temperatures and pressures the engines are running at."

Craig also has to repair any breakdowns that may occur at sea, which can occur anywhere from the engine room to the factory or on deck. "The conditions vary – working in the ship's engine room can get quite hot. It's not unusual to be working in temperatures of up to 45 degrees Celsius, especially on the bigger vessels."

The frequency of breakdowns varies from once a day to every few weeks. "Generally you should expect at least one breakdown a day on different parts of the vessel. If you're not fixing a breakdown you might be re-building a piece of equipment that isn't urgent or working on another project that you have on the go."

With only one or two marine engineers working on each ship, it is important to have a good general knowledge of the ship's apparatus and facilities. "You cover the jobs of a refrigeration engineer, electrician, mechanic, fitter turner and fitter welder – you're sort of a jack of all trades really."

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