5 September, 1997

Today, one of the engineers offered to give Pete and I a tour of the ship's propulsion system. I was reluctant to go because I was in the middle of doing something else, however, it turned out to be a better use of my time than the original project. On smaller boats where I usually work, the engine is mechanically connected to the propeller. It's a bit more complex on the Louis, since her power plant is capable of producing enough electrical energy to satisfy the demands of several hundred homes. Five diesel engines turn generators that produce energy to power three dc motors that are connected to the drive shafts that turn the ship's propellers. The Louis is 120 m in length, 24 m in breath, and her flight deck is 30 m above the keel. About half of her interior volume is devoted to the power plant and propulsion system. The five engines are each over two decks tall and consume 75 cubic meters of diesel fuel per day when operating at full power. There is enough energy in the exhaust to operate a still for the ships fresh water supply. I don't imagine there are many people back home who can say they shower every morning with distilled water!

Phil took us below decks into the heart of the ship power plant, the control room.

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