Thordon Bearings will mark the 21st anniversary of the first cruise ship installations of its COMPAC water-lubricated propeller shaft bearings with a series of celebratory events at leading maritime industry trade shows throughout the year.
The first will take place at Seatrade Global Cruise, in Miami, Florida, this April. A celebration of COMPAC will also take place in June, during the Nor-Shipping event in Oslo, Norway, and in December, at the Marintec trade fair, in Shanghai, China.
“This year, COMPAC truly comes of age,” said Thordon Bearings’ founder and polymer bearing and seal innovator, George A. (Sandy) Thomson: “And like any 21st birthday celebration, it is not uncommon for parents to speak with glowing pride about the growth they have seen in their children over their first 21 years. For me, COMPAC has matured into a robust, well-rounded and environmentally-conscientious adult, facing an exciting and prosperous future.”
Thordon Bearings’ President and Chief Executive Officer Terry McGowan, added: “As we mark COMPAC’s maturity, I cannot underplay the importance of the cruise ship sector in helping to prompt the greater and wider market acceptance of water-lubricated propeller shafts.
“Despite the concept being around for more than 100-years, prior to the mid-1990s there was little concern for the marine environment and water-lubricated shafts were considered something of a novelty. This is now not the case. The cruise sector has been absolutely pivotal in promoting the environmental and commercial benefits the technology can bring to the modern shipping fleet.”
The cruise sector was the first industry sector responsible for the revival of water-lubricated propulsion, with Princess Cruises and Disney Cruises leading to specify the technology for their then newbuild cruise ships Grand Princess and Disney Magic, both of which were built by Fincantieri and set to sea in 1998 and continue to use COMPAC to this day.
Campbell Cunningham, the former Marine Services Director at Stephenson Engineering, then Thordon’s UK distributor, takes up the story. “Disney Magic was the first cruise ship to be installed with the COMPAC system. When Disney decided to enter the market with newbuild vessels, the United States Coast Guard, which was at that time just beginning to monitor oil discharges from shaft lines operating in its waters, recommended water lubricated propulsion.
“At the same time, the first in the Princess-class of cruise ships was being built at Fincantieri but with a competing water-lubricated bearing, which proved problematic. We were approached to retrofit COMPAC just prior to the Grand Princess’ third seatrials. I remember it being the Easter weekend when Thordon manufactured COMPAC bushings and shipped them to Italy, where I supervised the machining and fitting of the bearings in the vessel.
“During the first seatrial with COMPAC the bearing became hydrodynamic at very low shaft speeds. This brought home the benefits of the COMPAC system. Water lubricated propulsion is the way the industry has to go.”
Since those first installations, Thordon has supplied COMPAC to most of the major cruise lines. Of the 17 cruise ships in the Princess Cruises’ fleet, 17 operate with the Thordon system as will three newbuilds. All the cruise ships in the Seabourn Cruises, Disney Cruises and Viking Cruises fleets have the arrangement, while other operators using Thordon seawater lubricated bearing systems include MSC Cruises, P&O Cruises, Oceania, and Regent Seven Seas.
Richard Vie, IMarEST Chairman and a former Vice-President, Technical Development and Quality Assurance, within Carnival’s Corporate Shipbuilding division, said: “Congratulations COMPAC! The Thordon technology has consistently proven itself environmentally, operationally, and commercially, successful providing continuous service across a number of cruise ship brands with exceptionally low levels of wear in a very demanding application.”