A Guide to Marine Engine Governors

Marine Engine Governors are the most essential operating system of the engine.

This article comprises the basic things one should know regarding the objective and governor mode of operations.

What does one understand by Marine Engine Governor?

This comprises of a hydraulic remote system, which is connected to the engine fuel rack, to keep a check on the engine RPM (speed).

This mechanism governs the quantities of fuel being transferred to the fuel valves based on the prescribed limits.

Types of Marine Engine Governors

These Governors are majorly classified into three categories:

      • Electronic
      • Hydraulic
      • Electro-hydraulic

At present, the most widely used is the Electro-hydraulic Governor i.e., 85% of ships around the world. The reason for its popularity is that it is hassle-free and can efficiently operate the fuel racks.

Drawbacks of Electro-hydraulic Governors

The electric part might sometimes malfunction; Potentiometer breakdown, hydraulic system getting jammed, are a few of the common problems.

Common causes of Hydraulic System getting jammed:

      • Underutilization of Hydraulic oi
      • Application of non-recommended oil
      • Unrefined Oil

These problems can result in the working of the potentiometer by force, leading to a breakdown

In order to avoid system breakdown, ensure that system has optimum levels of oil and use the oil which is recommended by the manufacturer.

Effects of Governor failure:

Governor failure is the leading cause of marine accidents, constituting 75% of the total accidents.

Major number of accidents occur while navigating alongside the port. To perform this function, the governor has a key role.  If the Governor faces any of the above-mentioned problems, the ship can lead to a breakdown, if the operators are not vigilant.

Reasons for the failure of Engine Governor

Woodward Governor is the most delicate one and needs regular maintenance

      • Engine Sized: This happens due to lack of lubrication or even due to high amounts of carbon present in the cylinder.
      • Actuator Potentiometer: Due to the breakdown of the potentiometer, it is unable to control the governor leading to a system malfunction or failure.
      • Scarcity of Oil: The governor operates under the pressure of oil, therefore an optimum supply of oil is needed to ensure smooth functioning.


    • Regular maintenance of the Governor is essential.
    • Use the oil which is compatible with your fuel racks.