A marine engineer has to work in the most hostile conditions on-board. The engine room is the heart of the ship and this is where a marine engineer spends most of his working hour shifts. The engine room is the bottom most compartment in the ship, right above the ships floor. This means that the engine room is literally under water and is filled with machinaries all around. You have the Engine, heat exchangers, compressors, fresh water generators, pumps in the engine room.The exhaust from the engine and other machines makes the environment pretty hot. The engine room may be exposed to temperatures of 40°C to 50°C. These conditions make the life of a marine engineer a challenge.
A day is divided into six watches of four hours each. A watch basically means maintenance of all the machinaries on-board. During a watch the marine engineer checks if the machine is working properly, if it is overheating and so on. It is the responsibility of the engineer on watch to keep all the machines in proper working conditions. Due to the rapid increase of automation in this field the chief engineer generally keeps the engine running in auto mode at night and if there is any problem in the engine room the a alarm sounds which will alert the chief engineer, and if he doesn't respond within three minutes then the alarm will sound in the second engineers cabin.
The Fifth engineer is accompanied by the senior engineers during watch-keeping, and is under the direct supervision of the second engineer. This is the period where a trainee learns the actual trade. Usually the training period on-board for a GME graduate as a Fifth engineer is of eight to nine months.