New $40 Million NSF Research Ship Fitted With Thordon Bearings

The R/V Nathaniel B. Palmer, owned by Edison Chouest Offshore, has been custom designed for the Antarctic research activities of the National Science Foundation. Engineered by a firm in Vancouver, and being built in Louisiana, the vessel incorporates both Thordon bearings and a water soluble Thor-Lube lubrication system.

"This is a highly specialized ship that can accurately be described as state-of-the-art," said Thomas Forhand, Head, Antarctic Staff, Division of Polar Programs, National Science Foundation (NSF), Washington, D.C. "We needed a vessel designed to do research—a pure research vessel in which every inch supports research activities.

Further, it also has to operate in the environmentally fragile Antarctic, which is another reason why we needed a vessel that is not only specifically designed to meet our research requirements, but incorporates the best available technology to prevent environmental damage," said Mr. Forhand.

Hull construction of the $40 mil- lion vessel began at North American Shipbuilding, an Edison Chouest subsidiary in LaRose, La., in April 1990, concurrent with the availability of design drawings, according to Vancouver-based John van der Pass, partner and engineering manager, Polar Design Consultants.

The 6,500-ton vessel is 308.5 feet long by 60 feet wide and will be used by the NSF for oceanographic, geophysical and geological research in the Antarctic.

Scheduled for completion shortly, the hull will be launched upside down and then righted by heavy cranes, according to Mr. van der Pass.

"While the Antarctic is considered an environmentally sensitive area," said Mr. van der Pass, "vessels operating there are subjected to intense pressure and pounding by ice. And the most vulnerable area to this level of pounding is the propeller shaft/stern tube." Combined with thin-walled Thordon XL bearings manufactured by Burlington, Ontario-based Thordon Bearings Inc., the Thor-Lube system provides high tolerance to the shock loads and misalignment which can result from ice pressure and pounding.

". . . in the event of seal failure," continued Mr. van der Pass, "there wouldn't be any environmental damage and the ship could continue to function, even at full speed, using a water back-up system until it reached port. Thor-Lube was specified for these reasons." The foundation will lease the vessel for 10 years from Edison Chouest Offshore, Galliano, La.

"To us, it's just another specialized ship," said Laney Chouest, Edison Chouest vice president.

"And like other specialized ship projects, we looked for the best people for the design component and assistance in selecting equipment that best met design and client needs," he added.

For free literature on Thordon bearings and water-soluble Thor- Lube lubrication system, Circle 66 on Reader Service Card For additional information on the shipbuilding capabilities of North American Shipbuilding, Circle 67 on Reader Service Card

Other stories from April 1991 issue


Maritime Reporter

First published in 1881 Maritime Reporter is the world's largest audited circulation publication serving the global maritime industry.