The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) has replaced the rubber cutterhead bearings on the 102m LOA cutter suction dredger ''Mahmoud Younis'' with water lubricated composite bearings from Thordon Bearings.

The retrofit, which took place the Port Said Shipyard's floating drydock, follows the success of a similar installation aboard the CSD Mashhour, the largest dredger in the SCA fleet. Its rubber cutterhead bearings were replaced last year, providing the first Thordon installation with the Authority.

Mahmoud Younis, named after the SCA's former chairman and capable of dredging to depths of 25.3m, was fitted with a 600mm outside diameter Thordon composite bearing which was machined and finished by Alexandria based Nefertiti Marine, Thordon Bearings's authorised distributor in Egypt. The bearing was then freeze-fitted to the vessel's cutterhead during a scheduled drydocking.

The SCA's fleet manager, Khaled Youssef said: "Mashhour has been operating flawlessly for 12 months with the Thordon composite bearing. In that short period of time we have experienced reduced vessel operating costs and less downtime compared to the previous installation. The composite bearing is more environmentally friendly since it does not require any lubricating grease."

Nefertiti Marine and Thordon are now working with the SCA to replace propeller and rudder bearings on other vessels in the organisation's fleet with Thordon long wearing lubricated elastomeric polymer technology.

The dredging department of the SCA is responsible for maintaining the canal to ensure all types of vessls can transit safely. Its fleet includes five cutter suction dredgers, three trailing suction hopper dredgers, barges, tugs, pilot boats and floating cranes.

By Larz Bourne