Thordon Bearings keeps AOPS propellers spinning with environmentally safe bearings

As environmental considerations increase in shipbuilding, a number of partners are helping to ensure that the power produced by Canada’s new Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships (AOPS) will move the vessels in an efficient, reliable, and environmentally safe manner.

Thordon Bearings, an Ontario-based designer and manufacturer of high-performance bearings, seals and other shaft line products for the global marine industry is a key part of these efforts. The company is working with Irving Shipbuilding, AOPS prime contractor and shipbuilder, and propulsion integrator MAN Denmark to provide an environmentally safe propeller shaft-bearing system.

Each AOPS is powered by ‎two 4.5 megawatt (MW) main propulsion motors, and four 3.6 mega volt ampere (MVA) generators. The Thordon COMPAC water-lubricated propeller shaft bearings will serve as the main shaft bearings, through which the propeller shafts turn.

The bearings are environmentally progressive because they are built using Thordon Bearings’s proprietary non-metallic materials that are lubricated with water, eliminating the use of oil or grease, meaning zero risk of pollution to our oceans from the bearings. Seawater lubricated propeller shaft bearings, like the ones Thordon Bearings designs, are even promoted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for all commercial ships operating in U.S. waters.

Thordon Bearings brings 35 years of naval bearing design expertise to the AOPS program, having supplied the Canadian-made COMPAC propeller shaft bearings for the Royal Canadian Navy’s Halifax class frigates, for which Irving Shipbuilding was also the prime contractor and shipbuilder.

Since the Halifax class frigates were built, the company has seen expansion over 300%, with their products in over 40 Navies and Coast Guards globally.

Now, as a partner on the AOPS program, Thordon Bearings continues to grow. The Thordon SeaThigor, a custom-made mechanical face seal developed as a direct result of Thordon’s involvement in the AOPS program, has led to sales within Canada and internationally, including multiple classes of Canadian Coast Guard vessels. One of the unique aspects of the SeaThigor seal is that it has a safe return to port mode. If the seal is damaged, it activates an inflatable seal so the vessel can proceed to a repair facility on its own power, at reduced speeds.

With more than 100 employees, Thordon Bearings places value on continued development, hiring skilled professionals, and supporting youth employment and experience through co-op positions. Thordon invests heavily in innovation and research & development at its Canadian facility, seeing much of its growth from developing new products in-house. Thordon brings high skill work to the local economy, bolstering Canada’s contribution and reputation by exporting into world markets with market-leading products.

The National Shipbuilding Strategy provides Canadian companies like Thordon Bearings the opportunity to launch new technologies, continue to grow, and find future export opportunities through the Industrial and Technological Benefits program. To learn more about the economic benefits across Canada, visit our Canadian Impact page.

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