Canada-based Thordon Bearings has signed a landmark US contract – its first major container ship deal and the largest commercial ship propeller shafts to be fitted with its COMPAC seawater-lubricated propeller shaft bearings.
They will be supplied for two container ships under construction at Aker Philadelphia Shipyard for Matson Navigation Co. The largest Jones Act container ships ever built, the 259 m-long, 3,600 teu Aloha Class vessels will each feature a COMPAC bearing system for a 930 mm-diameter shaft, driving an 8.1 m-diameter fixed-pitch propeller.
To be classed by DNV GL and scheduled for delivery during the third and fourth quarters of 2018, the newbuildings will enter service on Matson’s West Coast-Hawaii route in anticipation of an increased demand for higher cargo capacity and diversity.
Speaking to IHS Maritime, a Thordon representative commented, “We will deliver the COMPAC units in March 2017 and November 2017. They are the largest to be made for a commercial ship, though we have supplied larger for navy and coastguard ships.
“We will be sending our service technicians to oversee the installation and ensure it goes smoothly,” he continued. “We anticipate that the challenges will be working with the South Korean propulsion integrator and the shipyard, as the shipyard has little experience with water-lubricated propeller shaft bearing systems. It is different, but it should be easier once they understand the concepts.”
Thordon’s scope of supply includes COMPAC elastomeric bearings with a tapered keyset, a water quality package, bronze liners, and Thor-Coat shaft coating, meeting classification requirements for extended shaft withdrawal periods. Thordon guarantees the system for a 15-year wear life.
Imperatives to use such systems include the US Environmental Protection Agency ruling of December 2013 that vessels over 24 m long must adopt environmentally acceptable lubricants in all oil-to-sea interfaces before their next drydocking, recommending that seawater lubricated bearings be used in propeller shaft lines.
“Our COMPAC system also obviates completely the risk of non-compliance with US Vessel General Permit [VGP] stern tube oil-to-sea interface rules and ensures that the vessels can operate safely, responsibly and legally in US waters,” noted Craig Carter, Thordon’s marketing and customer services head.
The company’s senior regional manager, David Marshall. added, “This order is one of the most important commercial ship contracts we have ever received for the COMPAC solution. Not only does it provide us with a number of significant ‘firsts’, it shows that liner companies trading in US waters are taking the new VGP rules very seriously.”
The ships will feature a number of other environmentally safe technologies, including double-hull fuel tanks, a freshwater ballast system, an energy-efficient hull form, and a dual-fuel propulsion system.
The contract for the latter, announced at the end of 2013, went to MAN Diesel & Turbo, which will supply two 7S90ME-GI two-stroke dual-fuel engines, capable of running on LNG or HFO/MDO. They will be built under licence at the Hyundai plant in South Korea.
Matson Navigation president and CEO Matt Cox concluded, “These new ships are the future for Hawaii shipping and will bring a new level of efficiency and effectiveness to our service. The substantial investment in new technology underscores Matson’s long-term commitment to Hawaii and our desire to serve the islands in the best, most environmentally friendly way into the future.”