Chinese shipping companies favour water lubricated propulsion system

Chinese shipping companies favour water lubricated propulsion system
COMPAC bearing being installed on a vessel

China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO) has reported successful operation with Thordon Bearings’ seawater lubricated propeller shaft system, which has been installed on its two pure car/truck carriers since 2007. An increase in other Chinese shipping companies following suit indicates a move towards seawater over oil-based arrangements.

COSCO now has the seawater lubricated propeller shaft system known as COMPAC installed on around 70 ships, including heavy lift ships, bulk carriers, semi-submersibles and RoPax ferries. Other companies favouring the COMPAC system include China Oilfield Services (COSL) and China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC).

“The ‘greening of the maritime silk road’, which forms part of China’s broader Belt and Road Initiative to clean up its infrastructure with tighter regulations and controls, is resulting in more of the country’s owners and builders going green to remain competitive,” said Alex Li, managing director, CY Engineering, a technical services company and Thordon’s authorised distributor in China.

“Thordon’s COMPAC system is one of a number of environmentally sustainable solutions they are adopting to meet President Xi’s objective of a zero-emission China-flagged fleet becoming a reality by 2030.”

According to Alex Li, some 40 shipyards now have “excellent experience” with COMPAC water lubricated bearings, including the Hudong Shipyard, Jiangnan Shipyard, Shanghai Waigaogiao Shipbuilding, COSCO Dalian Shipyard, Guangzhou Wenchong Shipyard, Guangzhou Shipyard International, Huangpu Shipyard, and YJZ Shipyard.

“Following the engineering and technical services we have provided over the course of the past ten years, Chinese shipyards are now well ahead of the curve compared to other shipbuilders in the region,” he said.

“The experience they have in installing and commissioning Thordon’s COMPAC and SXL bearings provides a competitive and technical advantage that will no doubt be enhanced as more shipowners follow the clean shipping route.”

CY Engineering is currently working with the YZJ Shipyard on a project to install a COMPAC seawater lubricated propeller shaft bearing system to a 31,200dwt Great Lakes-operating bulk carrier. A new 62,000dwt multiple purpose vessel scheduled for delivery from the Dalian Shipyard to COSCO will provide another reference to the Chinese-built and owned vessels currently operating the Thordon system.

Sam Williams, Thordon’s regional manager for Asia, commented: “China’s capacity to build competitively priced tonnage has ensured it has remained the world’s leading shipbuilding nation even in periods of recession. This new commitment to delivering ships with environmentally-sustainable technologies means it will continue to do so.

“Despite annually delivering more than 30 per cent of the world’s newbuilds, the role Chinese shipyards will have in ‘greening’ global trade is undervalued.  Certainly, they know if they are unable to keep pace with international demands for more environmentally efficient tonnage, then they risk losing the top spot.

“We have seen a hike in orders from Chinese yards across our product range. There is definitely an emergent preference for quality, sustainable systems produced outside of China.”

To date, Thordon’s COMPAC and SXL water lubricated propeller shaft bearings have been installed aboard over 130 Chinese-newbuild vessels, 85 of which have been for domestic owners.