What is an Engine Room?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 22 November 2019
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An engine room is a room or series of rooms on a water vessel in which the engine and the engine components are stored. The engine or engines are responsible for propulsion of the craft, and the size of the engine as well as the engine room will vary significantly depending on the size and purpose of the vessel. The location of the engine room or rooms can vary, though many ships feature these rooms at the bottom of the craft and very close to the rear of the ship to allow for more cargo space and fewer mechanical problems due to excess machinery.

A ship may have more than one engine room depending on the size and purpose of the ship. The rooms may be distinguished by their locations within the ship, but more commonly, they are numbered so they can be distinguished from each other. If the ship only has one engine room, it is likely to be located toward the rear of the ship because this reduces the distance between the engine components and the propeller that drives the ship forward. A longer propeller shaft runs more of a risk of damage or failure than a short one does.


Generally speaking, engine rooms can be dangerous places to work. Workers in an engine room are exposed to potentially hazardous fumes from combustion, electrical hazards, and risk of injury from moving parts. These rooms are usually not very well-lit, and they tend to be very noisy. If the engines in the engine room are combustion engines, the rooms must feature some sort of ventilation system to prevent the buildup of toxic gases that can be dangerous or even deadly for humans. Temperature controls are sometimes added to these rooms to make the conditions more manageable for workers spending significant amounts of time in the room. Precautions must also be taken due to fire hazards: emergency exits and fire extinguishing equipment must be on hand at all times.

Engines present in the engine room are not just for propelling the ship forward. Some engines may be responsible for providing electrical power to the entire ship, and some engines control side-to-side movement by propelling water from one side of the ship to the other. These engines are controlled by the captain on the captain's deck, and the engines are maintained by personnel within the engine rooms.


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