New Zealand’s First Fully Electric Ship Aims To Be A Zero Polluter

The southern hemisphere’s first fully electric, carbon fibre commuter ferry has successfully completed its inaugural round trip with a Thordon seawater lubricated propeller shaft arrangement supplied by New Zealand’s Henley Engineering. Ika Rere, Mãori for flying fish, joined the East by West fleet in December operating the company’s Wellington to Eastbourne route.

Commenting on the ferry’s first trip, between West Queen’s Wharf and Days Bay, Henley Engineering Managing Director, Mark Power, said: “Ika Rere runs like a Tesla Model S! It’s fast, efficient, smooth and quiet. It is a truly inspiring vessel. We hope to be involved in more projects like this.”

Auckland based Henley Group – Thordon’s authorized distributor for New Zealand – designed and supplied the vessel’s driveshafts aft of twin 325kW battery-powered electric motors.

Ika Rere fitted with a Thordon seawater lubricated propeller shaft arrangement
Image Credits: Stellar Studio

The scope of supply included a pair of Thordon SXL seawater lubricated propeller shaft bearings installed in Easiflow GRP sterntubes; shaft seals with Thordon XL oil/grease-free guide bushes; shaft lines and propeller; couplings, mounts, thrust bearings and brakes.

East by West Managing Director Jeremy Ward said: “While the quiet hum of an electric boat is a much more pleasurable experience for passengers, this project was driven by our desire to take climate action. A Thordon Bearings’ zero pollution package was the perfect fit for this eco vessel. A smooth, quiet and water lubricated driveline was an essential environmental requirement.”

The 19m (62ft) long, 135 passenger-carrying fast cat is also the first vessel delivered by the Wellington Electric Boat Building Company (WEBBCo), a joint venture between the ferry operator and established boatbuilder Fraser Foote.

WEBBCo managing director Fraser Foote said: “The ferry is very quiet at 19 knots and silent at 10 knots. It is faster and uses less energy than we anticipated. Ika Rere is a hugely successful project for us. We are the first in the southern hemisphere to have taken a vessel of this kind off the drawing board and onto the water.”

Foote furthered that collaboration between the yard’s in-house design team and New Zealand’s leading maritime companies “was key to this success. We are extremely proud of what we’ve achieved together”.

Thordon Bearings’ Technical Director, Tony Hamilton, furthered that the seal and bearing specialist is well placed to support shipping’s transition to a sustainable future and eliminating oil pollution below the waterline.

“We are thrilled to help drive the electric ship and other alternative means of propulsion forward. The pioneering work into self-lubricating polymer materials we started in the 1970s has resulted in the portfolio of environmentally safe products we see today. We were ahead of the game then and we’re still ahead of the game now. All our products are designed to reduce the maritime industry’s impact on the environment,” said Hamilton.

Thordon Bearings supports the International Maritime Organizations’ World Maritime theme for 2022: New Technologies for Greener Shipping.

The theme is linked to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDGs 13 and 14 on climate action and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources; SDG 9 on industry, innovation and infrastructure; and SDG 17, which highlights the importance of partnerships and implementation to achieve these goals.

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