(BURLINGTON, Ontario) — Thordon Bearings has developed a bespoke modeling tool capable of calculating the amount of operational oil prevented from leaking into the world’s oceans with each installation of a seawater-lubricated propeller shaft bearing.
To be launched officially on April 22 to coincide with Earth Day 2016, the world’s largest environmental movement, now in its 46th year, the oil savings calculator shows that more than 60 million liters of oil pollution has been saved to date.
“In our opinion the only acceptable propeller shaft stern tube oil leakage is zero,” said Terry McGowan, president and CEO of Thordon Bearings. “Thanks to those vessels that have already installed seawater-lubricated propeller shaft bearings, over 60 million liters (almost 16 million U.S. gallons) of stern tube oil has been saved from entering our oceans, seas, lakes and rivers. The oil saving calculator is updated constantly and will continue to track our contribution to removing stern tube oil from our waters with the greater goal of completely eliminating this source of pollution.”
Dr. Karen Purnell, managing director of the International Tanker Pollution Federation (ITOPF), supports the initiative.
“As the world’s largest shipowner organization, ITOPF supports measures designed to help our members and associates meet high environmental standards. Though our primary function is to promote effective response to marine spills of oil and chemicals worldwide, we also support the maritime industry in its efforts to reduce ship-sourced pollution and provide for more sustainable marine operations,” she said.
ITOPF last year presented Thordon Bearings with an environmental award for its oil-free COMPAC propeller shaft bearing system for its part in reducing the amount of oil entering the sea annually.
The oil saving calculation is based on detailed statistical analysis of the number of vessels that have been built with or converted to seawater lubrication, the 300 days a year each vessel is typically operational and an average oil leak of six liters (1.6 U.S. gallons) per day per vessel.
Independent research carried out by New York-based Environmental Research Consulting indicated in 2014 that the total amount of operational oil discharges from oceangoing vessels could be more than 240 million liters annually. To add perspective, the oil pollution from the Exxon Valdez casualty of 1989 was 41.6 million liters.
While 90 percent of all commercial ships continue to use an oil-lubricated propeller shaft bearing system, Craig Carter, Thordon Bearings’ head of marketing and customer service, believes the industry is in the midst of a technology transition that will eventually confine oil-lubricated shaft bearing systems to history.
“Recent changes to U.S. Vessel General Permit requirements and the introduction of new Environmental Protection Agency rules have resulted in an unprecedented number of commercial vessels opting for seawater-lubricated bearing technologies, and while more can be done, shipowners are now much more aware of the positive contribution they can make in safeguarding the marine environment,” he said.
Shipowners can monitor the positive impact the seawater-lubricated propeller shaft bearing is having on the marine environment by checking the oil savings calculator counter at www.thordonbearings.com.