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Thordon Bearings still going strong on lakes icebreaker after 30 years

Thordon Bearings still going strong on lakes icebreaker after 30 years

(Posted on 01/02/22)

A Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) icebreaker is helping to keep shipping moving on the Great Lakes throughout the winter with a set of Thordon Bearings’ propeller shaft bearings that were fitted more than 30 years ago.

Canadian Coast Guard Ship (CCGS) Griffon, the oldest vessel of the CCG’s Type 1100 series, was retrofitted with a set of four Thordon XL polymer stave bearings in 1990, 20 years into her service life. Sister ships received Thordon bearings from new throughout the 1980s. Since this initial install, Thordon and the CCG have worked together on several projects, including some with new technologies pioneered by Thordon.

Regular maintenance inspections over the last three decades have shown only a gradual increase in clearance between the propeller shafts and the bearings.

CCGS Griffon is about to undergo a ten-year life extension program with the CCG, for the first time, considering replacing the XL bearings like for like. Replacing the bearing staves with new XL bearings ensures the ease of installation, further reliability as well as supportability as Thordon has an extensive distributor network in Canada.  

Mike Rankin, Senior Vessel Maintenance Manager for CCG’s Central Region, commented: “I think the fact that we have never required spares speaks to how dependable these bearings have been.”

Since those early orders from the CCG, Thordon Bearings’ products are now fitted to more than 50 Navies and Coast Guards around the world, in addition to thousands of commercial merchant shipping vessels and cruise liners, thanks to their proven quality and durability – including the 30-plus years of service life on CCGS Griffon.

Scott Groves, VP – Sales for Thordon Bearings, said: “Since its first contract with the Coast Guard in the 1980s, Thordon has expanded and currently supplies over 50 navies and coast guards across the world with bearings for a wide range of vessels.

“The experience of Thordon bearings on the CCGS Griffon highlights that the things we were doing almost 40 years ago were great then and continue to be great – and have only improved through developments such as condition monitoring.”

CCGS Griffon, which entered service in December 1970, is a high endurance multi-tasked vessel and light icebreaker based out of Prescott, Ontario. It provides icebreaking services on the Great Lakes during the winter months, and works as a buoy tending vessel between spring and fall each year.

The four Thordon bearings are fore and aft on each of the two 457mm (18in) propeller shafts that are powered by four Fairbanks-Morse 38D8-1/8 8-cylinder diesel-electric generators. The 71.3m (234ft) LOA vessel is rated Arctic Class 2, carries a crew of 25, has a maximum speed of 14 knots and a maximum range of 5,500 nautical miles.

While Thordon’s extensive product range is in service with customers throughout Canada, 95 per cent of the company’s manufacturing output is exported from its facility in Burlington.

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