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In marine transportation, the chief engineer is a licensed mariner in charge of the engineering department on a merchant vessel. "Chief engineer" is the official title of someone qualified to oversee the entire engine department; the qualification is colloquially called a "chief's ticket".[not verified in body]
A chief engineer (commonly referred to as"ChEng," "The Chief" or just "Chief") is responsible for all operations and maintenance that has to do with any and all engineering equipment throughout the entire ship.
Under many jurisdictions the Chief Engineer is of equal rank to the Captain, with responsibility being split between the two posts; the Chief Engineer taking responsibility for engine room and maintenance and the Captain taking responsibility for navigation and deck operations.
The chief engineer also determines the fuel, lube oil, and other consumables required for a voyage. The chief engineer also compiles an inventory for spare parts, oversees fuel, lube, and slop oil transfers, all major maintenance, prepares the engine room for inspection by local marine/safety authorities (e.g. U.S. Coast Guard) and is in charge of the engine room during emergency situations. This is the short list of a chief engineer's duties aboard a merchant vessel.
The chief's primary assistant, the first assistant engineer/second engineer, supervises the daily operation of the engine room and engine department and reports directly to the chief.
Chief engineer's licenses are divided into different types for the various types of engine- and power-plant found on ships. These are commonly divided as Steam, covering reciprocating (now almost obsolete) or turbine, and Motor covering Diesel, Diesel-Electric and Gas Turbine. These categories are further divided into power ranges, usually below 3,000kW is an inferior license. Obtaining a Chief Engineer's combined (Steam and Motor) License for unlimited horsepower is, by far, the highest achievement a licensed engineering officer can reach on a merchant vessel. Sailing as chief engineer is an immense undertaking of great responsibility.
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- International Maritime Organization; Chief Engineers Association; Fanning Communications, Inc. "III: Standards Regarding the Engine Department". International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers 1978; Chief Engineer Magazine 1934. Section A–III/1.
- International Labour Organization (2000-12-05). "Ship-Engineer (Machinist)". International Hazard Datasheets on Occupation. Retrieved 2007-05-26.