The black box from a cargo ship

The black box from a cargo ship

Juanmi Taboada
Juanmi Taboada
The black box from a cargo ship

I will tell you about my experience repairing a cargo ship as a naval Engineer.

Some months ago, you could read in the local newspaper Málaga Hoy that a large cargo ship was approaching Málaga after a major accident it had suffered in its front part.

Height repair in the shipyards of the port of Malaga (Málaga Hoy – 8 Marzo 2022)

It was the cargo ship Integrador with a Panamanian flag, the capacity to transport 1000 cars, and belonging to RORO Shipping Company, which operates with eight ships in different countries. Those responsible for it proceeded to contact us (Andalú Sea Robotic Submarine) so that upon arrival, the hull could be examined with the ROVs and, in this way, observe the dimension and depth of the damage caused during the accident.

Crashed bulb of Cargo Ship Integrador in Málaga’s Port

I haven’t posted anything until now, as this work has involved quite a bit of complexity, from decrypting and obtaining the black box to the final launching of the ship and a lot of logistics.

When the ship entered the dry dock at the Mario López shipyard in the Port of Malaga, we extracted the data from the VDR (black box) of the ship and gave the information found to those responsible for it.

Panoramic view from the Cargo Ship Integrador in Málaga’s Port

The company hired us throughout April and May to carry out diagnostics, maintenance, and updates of the electronic systems of the ship’s bridge.

Juanmi Taboada on Cargo Ship Integrador in Málaga’s Port

The list of performances was not small:

  • Track pilot
  • Gamma control systems
  • Radar hardware, naval charts, and licenses
  • ECDIS (nautical charts)
  • NABTEX (meteorology)
  • BNWAS (supervision of personnel on the bridge)

We worked day and night.

Night view from the Cargo Ship Integrador in Málaga’s Port

All the work was carried out within the established deadlines, and the launch day arrived. That day I was finishing the commissioning of the BNWAS motion sensors, and I couldn’t get out on time, so I was on board during the launch, which was a very enriching experience. The outstanding work of the pilot, the captain, and all the crew who proceeded to supervise and carry out the necessary manoeuvres for the launching, transfer to the lifting dock, and later it is mooring, with the added difficulty during the approach and mooring, because the vessel still did not have engines or operating reels, since the maintenance, repair and improvement operations would continue in the Levante dock moored at the port.

Cargo Ship RCS Integrador launch in Málaga (Spain)

Days later, the ship left the inlet of the port of Malaga to anchor and test the latest improvements to leave for distant lands. However, one of the control systems in the engine room produced an error, and the ship had to return due to a broken motor control system since it could not manoeuvre.

Again we were notified to proceed with the repair of said systems. In this process, it was necessary to extract and duplicate the memories of the motor control systems.

The engine room of a ship of this type is simply indescribable. Everything is big, big engines, and multiple cabinets with interconnected and redundant systems. Each control part is differentiated. So we had to review practically everything.

Engine Room Cargo Ship Integrador
Engine Control Room Cargo Ship Integrador

Finally, after supervision of the start-up of the engines, everything was successful, and without further problems, the ship departed for its new destination.

It has allowed me to meet great and professional people on a technical and personal level. We have shared a table with the crew and dozens of coffees. I still remember the day we all had a snack together with sweets from Malaga.

It has also been an honour to have received recognition from the owner and CEO of the RORO Shipping Company, Mr Gabriel Kaklouk, for our work.

Cargo Ship Integrador in Málaga (Spain)

After finishing the operations, they told us they were pleased with our improvements. However, we then knew that they had called up to 5 companies before ours to repair some of the systems without any of them finding the right solution to control the ship systems work correctly. Some even refused to touch anything seeing the high complexity of such systems.

It has been a strenuous job due to its haste and the speed required to carry out all the operations, and since I have been combining all these tasks with my daily work, my wonderful family has supported me during these two months. Our children have been following all the operations all this time, asking us to see the ship and asking dozens of questions when they saw the photos. A Trace of it leaves this drawing:

Drawing from my kids of RCS Cargo Ship Integrador
Show Comments (1)


  • Carlos Movilla
    Carlos Movilla

    Draw… the best!

    Congrats, very interesting and crazy opportunity.
    I like it.

    • Article Author
    • Reply

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