Dubai Shipyard takes express delivery of largest rudder bearing from Thordon


Written by

Nick Blenkey

The SXL rudder bearing at Thordon Bearings head office in Canada before being airlifted to Dubai.

After a recent visit to Drydocks World Dubai shipyard, a 7,506 TEU container ship now sails with the largest rudder bearing ever made by Thordon Bearings.

The 2001-built, European-owned vessel was retrofitted with a 1,230mm (4ft) long, 1,111mm (3.6ft) diameter SXL bearing after her original bronze rudder bearing had to be replaced due to excessive wear.

Thordon’s authorized distributor in the United Arab Emirates – Ocean Power International (OPI) – has been contacted by the shipyard to offer an alternative rudder bearing solution. OPI recommended Thordon’s greaseless SXL polymer bearing.

The rapid supply of equipment that could be installed during the planned dry-docking of the ships was a key part of the decision.

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

From receipt of order, it took just three days to fabricate, ship, deliver, machine and install the record bearing, using liquid nitrogen, during the vessel’s twelve-day dry-docking in November.

The owner has also benefited from Thordon’s unique 15-year rudder bearing life warranty, which covers the supply of a replacement should the bearing wear out and require renewal within 15 years of installation. .

“The Thordon plant in Burlington, Ontario 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 onto a scheduled Emirates Airlines flight to Dubai, where UAE customs quickly cleared the product, which was delivered and installed within a further 24 hours.”


“Ocean Power International is considered a critical service provider to the UAE’s marine industry, so we are getting priority approval on equipment for the Dubai dry docks,” Qureshi said. “DDW couldn’t believe it was made, shipped and delivered in just three days. The CEO called me personally to thank us for the speed of execution.

“The owner is very pleased with the 24/7 customer service provided by Thordon Bearings and OPI,” said Scott Groves, Vice President of Sales, Thordon Bearings. “Rafid and his team often deliver bearings for critical and time-sensitive projects in the early hours of the morning, but this is the first time they have delivered a bearing of this size…and in record time.”

“Using grease-free deck gear and rudder bearings fits perfectly with the owner’s commitment to protecting the environment, as well as the health and safety of its employees,” Groves added. “Since it is no longer necessary to grease our bearings, the associated labour, costs and source of pollution are eliminated. Internal lubricants formulated into the material reduce friction, resulting in smoother, longer lasting, grease-free bearing operation.

Thordon claims that its SXL material has a lower modulus of elasticity than other non-metallic bearings, which results in significantly increased vibration damping, adaptation to edge loads, and better shock resistance. This reliability and performance is evident with nearly 4,500 applications of rudder bearings on ships.

OPI is also currently working with DDW on various projects to replace container ship fairleads with Thordon’s greaseless ThorPlas-Blue bearings.

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

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