The cell phone call from Andreas’ fiancé was the last straw....

....on what had been a long hard day. She wanted to talk despite his explanation that he had just come off watch from a double header, 0800 to 1600, in the engine room and that he needed a break, and a beer, before he could concentrate.

She had been upset that he was unwilling to talk about their wedding plans despite his explanation that he had just come off watch from a double header, 0800 to 1600, in the engine room and that he needed a break, and a beer, before he could concentrate. A row had ensued and the situation had gone from bad to worse and, far from wedding plans, by the end they had traded insults which both of them would regret later. 

Andreas, a Junior Engineer, threw the phone onto his day bed cursing it, girls in general, the ship, the voyage and the Chief Engineer in particular. He reached into the fridge and withdrew a cold beer, pulled the ring instinctively and heard the familiar welcoming hiss. As he tipped the cold liquid into his mouth his world began to feel a better place. After a couple more cans, a bag of crisps, a shower and having re-watched a favourite movie he turned in. He had four hours until he was due on watch again at midnight. 

He lay there, feeling quite tired, but with the argument going around in his head. He had been headstrong and unreasonable and had definitely said things that he should not have done. The chance to make amends would not be available until late the next day when his ship would again be in cell phone range. He lay rehearsing what he would say and sleep, although badly needed, did not come easily.

He must have dozed because the strident ringing of the internal telephone woke him at 2340 with a start. He answered and spoke the automatic response – ok, thanks, I’m on my way. He  washed the sleep from his eyes, pulled his overalls on and wearily made his way towards the engine control room.

The Senior Second was there before him, chirpy as usual. The handover with the off-going watchkeepers was routine, a few pleasantries and a bit of banter and he was soon alone with the Second and his thoughts. They chatted for a while but he had rounds to complete and so, at about 0045, he set off. The passenger ship was at sea in busy shipping lanes and so all the hydraulic sliding watertight doors were closed. There were eleven to be passed on the standard engine room rounds and each one would take 40 seconds if the procedures were obeyed. Routinely they weren’t when the Chief Engineer was not around. 

Andreas carried out a circuit of the main machinery space and then began to pass through the auxiliary machinery rooms. He was carrying out routine checks automatically. His mind was partly back home with his fiancé as he approached the fifth door. He yawned as he flicked the lever: the door started to open. When it had opened a little way he set and locked the lever in the closing position and started to pass through. He was nearly clear of the door when he hesitated; he had forgotten to check the calorifier. He turned to go back. When he was part way through the narrowing opening the wad of cotton waste in his back pocket caught temporarily on the upright of the door frame. The delay was momentary but catastrophic. He felt the door closing on his right thigh. Frantically he reached behind his back to grab the control lever but his flailing hand was unable to find it. He passed out with the pain as the door continued its devastating progress into its housing.