New Towboat Gets a Complete Thordon Propulsion Package

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

October 22, 2020

(Photo: Thordon Bearings)

(Photo: Thordon Bearings)

A  1,600-horsepower towboat delivered to Harvey, La.-based operator L&L Marine Transportation in June is now operational with a full range of Thordon oil-free and grease-free bearings.

Designed by Entech, the 65-foot twin-screw towboat Amelia Ray is purpose-built by Rodriquez Shipbuilding in Coden, Ala. for the transportation of petrochemicals along all inland and coastal waters in the southern states of the U.S.

In addition to newest towboat addition, L&L Marine operates the 2,000-horsepower Melissa Lee and three 1,200-horsepower vessels Angela Rae, Myrna Ann and Madeleine Michelle. Besides working the Harvey Canal, the company offers towing services anywhere below Baton Rouge, La. and from Houston to Mobile, Ala.

While all five of L&L Marine’s vessels are equipped with Thordon bearings, Amelia Ray is the first newbuild in the fleet to be specified with a Thordon propulsion package at the vessel design stage.

According to L&L Marine owner Lee LeBoeuf, the “significant operational savings” experienced with previous successful retrofit installations led to the selection of Thordon’s RiverTough tailshaft bearings, shaft liners, TG100 seals, ThorPlas-Blue rudder bearings, ThorPlas-Blue Self Aligning Bearings (SAB) and SXL thrust washers for the Amelia Ray.

“We initially replaced all our rubber tailshaft bearings with Thordon’s RiverTough bearings and shaft liners and found we were able to extend drydocking intervals from three to eight years,” LeBoeuf says. “We then started retrofitting ThorPlas-Blue bearings in the rudder stocks and installing TG100 seals, which reduced operational costs even further as there is less vessel down time and maintenance. This means we are more attractive to our customers, more dependable and more reliable. We can better plan drydock schedules in line with the operational needs of our customers.”

Thordon Bearings designs and manufactures a complete range of journal bearing and seal systems for marine, clean power generation, pump and other industrial markets. The manufacturer says its products are built using proprietary non-metallic polymer materials that are lubricated with water eliminating oil or grease usage, meaning zero risk of oil pollution to rivers, lakes and oceans.

Thordon sales manager Jim Bright says, “L&L Marine, a longtime customer for Thordon Bearings, has a small fleet of workboats which means that the financial risks are higher if a vessel has to come out of service for repair work. Lee tells me that the switch to Thordon bearings and seals has not only mitigated these risks but helped facilitate improvements to the bottom line.”

Bright notes the performance of the Self Aligning Bearings, in particular. “The tiller arms of the steering system on this new vessel were also fitted with Thordon’s Self Aligning Bearings on both the live end of the steering cylinder and the jockey bar. The SAB, made from ThorPlas-Blue polymer material, is not only self-aligning, but it also provides grease-free operation. This allows the tillers to operate with independent suspension. As the rudder works there is no binding of the jockey bar which would typically result in increased stress and wear on the bushings, resulting in reduced maintenance and associated costs.”

While capital expenditure is more than a conventional tailshaft/propulsion bearing system, LeBoeuf expects the Thordon application aboard Amelia Ray to generate annual operational savings of $15,000. “Compared to conventional propulsion and tailshaft bearings, which require regular maintenance, replacement and frequent drydocking, the Thordon system results in threefold reduction in operational costs,” LeBoeuf explained.

Amelia Ray is powered by a pair of Mitsubishi S6R2 diesel engines from Laborde Products. The engines, which deliver 1,600 total horsepower at 1,400 revolutions per minute, drive Kahlenberg screws through Twin Disc MGX5321 reduction gears. Two 60kW Cummins generators provide power to, among other consumers, a Hydra Force electric-over-hydraulic steering system.

With tank capacity to transport 15,000 gallons of petrochemicals, 4,100 gallons of potable water, 500 gallons of lube oil and 400 gallons of dirty oil, L&L Marine’s new vessel is Subchapter M compliant and able move barges carrying oil or hazardous materials in no discharge areas from St. Marks, Fla. to Rio Grande, Texas on the Intracoastal Waterway and rivers not more than three miles from shore.

L&L Marine Transportation was founded by LeBoeuf’s father, Carl, in 1978, and has served the industry along the Harvey Canal for 42 years.

The company’s newest vessel Amelia Ray, named after the current owner’s four-year-old granddaughter, was set to work without a full-fledged christening due to the coronavirus pandemic and is currently transporting petrochemical products along the Mississippi between Houston, Texas and Baton Rouge, La.

L&L Marine has an option for an additional vessel from Rodriquez Shipbuilding, but LeBoeuf is waiting for some of the market uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus to clear before choosing whether or not to go through with the order. “We will wait to see how COVID-19 plays out before making the decision,” he said.

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