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Dubai shipyard takes express delivery of Thordon’s largest ever rudder bearing

The SXL rudder bearing at Thordon Bearings’ headquarters in Canada before being air freighted to Dubai.

Posted on April 27, 2022

After a recent visit to the Drydocks World Dubai shipyard, a 7,506 TEU containership is now sailing with the largest rudder bearing ever manufactured by Thordon Bearings.

The 2001-built vessel, operated by a European owner, was retrofitted with a 1,230 mm (4 foot) long, 1.111 mm (3.6 foot) diameter SXL bearing after its original bronze rudder bearing required replacement due to excessive wear.

Thordon’s authorized distributor in the U.A.E. – Ocean Power International (OPI) – was contacted by the shipyard to put forward an alternative rudder bearing solution. OPI recommended Thordon’s grease-free SXL polymer bearing.

A key decision consideration was the swift supply of material that could be fitted during the vessels’ scheduled drydocking.

Thordon and OPI mobilized to produce and deliver the bearing in record time.

From receiving the order, it took just three days to manufacture, ship, deliver, machine and fit the record-breaking bearing, using liquid nitrogen, during the ship’s twelve-day drydocking in November.

The owner also benefitted from Thordon’s unique 15-year rudder bearing wear life guarantee, which covers the provision of a replacement if the bearing wears out and requires renewal within 15 years of installation.

“Thordon’s Burlington, Ontario, facility produced the self-lubricating polymer material in less than 24 hours,” said Rafid Qureshi, managing director of Dubai-based OPI. “The bearing was then loaded on to a scheduled Emirates Airlines flight to Dubai, where U.A.E. customs quickly cleared the product, which was delivered and installed in another 24 hours.”


“Ocean Power International is considered an essential service provider to the U.A.E.’s maritime industry, so we do get priority clearance on equipment headed to Dubai Drydocks,” said Qureshi. “DDW couldn’t believe it was manufactured, shipped and delivered in just three days. The CEO called me personally to thank us for the quick turnaround.”

“The owner is very satisfied with the 24/7 customer service both Thordon Bearings and OPI provide,” said Scott Groves, VP sales, Thordon Bearings. “Rafid and his team often deliver bearings for critical, time sensitive projects in the early hours, but this is the first time they have delivered a bearing of this size… and in such record time.”

“The application of grease-free deck equipment and rudder bearings fits firmly with the owner’s commitment to protecting the environment, and its employees’ health and safety,” added Groves. “Since there is no longer a requirement to grease our bearings, the associated labor, cost and pollution source is removed. Internal lubricants formulated into the material reduce friction, resulting in smoother, longer lasting, grease-free bearing operation.”

Thordon says its SXL material has a lower modulus of elasticity than other non-metallic bearings, resulting in significantly increased vibration dampening, accommodation of edge loading and better impact resistance. This reliability and performance are evident with almost 4,500 rudder bearing applications on vessels.

OPI is also currently working with DDW on various projects to replace containership fairleads with Thordon’s grease-free ThorPlas-Blue bearings.

Thordon’s record-breaking rudder bearing was fitted to the vessel during a scheduled drydocking at Drydocks World shipyard.


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