Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Seawater Lubricated Bearings Helping the Fight to Improve Shipping's Green Credentials

Liner Groups Opting to Adopt Environmentally Approved System
Shipping News Feature

CANADA – CHINA – SINGAPORE – WORLDWIDE – With everyone in the shipping industry focused on environmental improvements it seems Thordon Bearings continues to make inroads into the traditional shipbuilding market with its seawater lubricated offerings.

Latest convert is Singapore-headquartered X-Press Feeders which has two Super Eco 2700 containerships under construction at China’s Zhoushan Changhong Shipyard, now launched with complete water lubricated propeller shaft arrangements supplied by the Ontario headquartered group.

Both the MARIC-designed, DNV GL-classed X-Press Mekong and X-Press Pearl feature Thordon’s award-winning COMPAC propeller shaft bearings, bronze shaft liners, a Water Quality Package, ThorShield shaft protection coating and the company’s proprietary bearing condition monitoring system (BCM). Due for delivery later this year, the vessels were ordered in 2018 with options for an additional two plus two.

Sam Williams, Thordon Bearings’ Regional Manager for Asia and Greece said that X-Press Feeders, the world’s largest independent common carrier with a fleet of more than 110 Panamax vessels, specified the Thordon system after operating a COMPAC-installed vessel acquired two years ago under a Sale & Purchase agreement. He explained:

“Based on their experience with the system installed aboard the 2018-built X-Press Kabru [formerly Washington Trader], which is based on the same Super Eco 2700 design, the owner specifically wanted the arrangement for its newbuilds. This is a testament not only to the success of the MARIC design, but also to the environmental performance and cost-saving benefits of a water lubricated system.

“With a hull form designed for maximum fuel-efficiency and reduced emissions, the move away from an oil-lubricated shaft to a more environmentally acceptable solution was a significant motivation. The experience the owner had with X-Press Kabru proved the COMPAC system’s operational and environmental performance, but also showed that long-term operational savings can be achieved with water lubricated tailshaft bearings. A very cost-effective alternative.”

X-Press Mekong and X-Press Pearl are the 4th and 5th ships to be built based on the Super Eco 2700 design to use Thordon's proven water lubricated system. All the vessels in this series have been designed to meet DNV GL’s stringent tailshaft monitoring notation TMON, which means a water-lubricated shaft has the same extended shaft withdrawal inspection periods as an oil-lubricated system. Terry McGowan, President and CEO, Thordon Bearings’, said:

“X-Press Feeders has a clearly defined set of environmental sustainability standards, so we are delighted it has incorporated COMPAC into the design and build of these super eco-friendly newbuilds. The first COMPAC newbuilds in the X-Press fleet is a further indication of the container shipping segment’s commitment to improving the ocean environment.”

Whilst the thought of seawater lubrication will be counter intuitive to most traditional marine engineers, it does appear that liner shipping companies, in particular, are avoiding oil-lubricated propeller shaft bearings in favour of such a system. In 2015, Thordon inked a milestone agreement to supply the water lubricated bearing system to two 3,600 TEU Jones Act boxships. And in 2019 the COMPAC-operating Log-In Polaris was delivered to a Brazilian shipowner.

That same year China’s Guangzhou Wenchong Shipyard delivered the final vessel in a series of two newbuild containerships to a Greek owner. All three of these vessels are based on the Super Eco 2700 design incorporating a COMPAC shaft line. Commenting on the bearing systems’ popularity amongst Chinese shipbuilders, Alex Li, Managing Director, CY Engineering and Thordon’s authorised distributor in China, said:

“The Zhoushan Changhong Shipyard is well equipped to install water-lubricated systems. The Thordon system is one of a number of environmentally sustainable solutions now widely adopted across Chinese yards to meet environmental sustainability goals. About 40 shipyards are experienced with the arrangement and are enthusiastic about the COMPAC system.”

Photo: Thordon’s ThorShield shaft protection coating applied to the propeller shaft.