Praise For The Porthos

The TR Porthos, a container ship belonging to Zeaborn Ship Management, was dry docked at Tuas Yard last October for renewal and conversion works involving the stern tube. Due to the scale and complexity of the work, the project duration was originally scheduled for 27 days. But Mr Tan Jui Yong, Project Manager, ST Engineering Marine Ltd, believed that the team could do better and said, “We counter proposed with 18 days.”

The stern tube is a hollow structure housing the tailshaft that connects the engine to the propeller of the ship. The tailshaft was worn due to the effects of a water-cooled system, shaft movements and vibrations from the large clearance, and abrasives in the shaft bearing, among other reasons.

Jui Yong’s plan was to replace and convert the cooling mechanism into an oil-based system. “Oil is a better lubricant and can serve as a vibration damper. Besides, a lower clearance would reduce the shaft movement and vibration thereby generating less heat,” he said, pointing out the benefits to the frequency and cost of maintenance.

Not all was smooth sailing, of course. The space constraint was the first major challenge as different specialists needed to work at the same location. The setting up of the boring machine was also initially unsuccessful. After a replacement machine was found, modified and aligned, the team realised that additional drilling was required to facilitate the pouring of chock fast (an epoxy material) into the stern tube as the conventional pumping method could not work. “We were literally running a tight ship with this one,” Jui Yong laughed.

Yet, the challenges were not insurmountable as the Marine team rallied together with suppliers to carry out daily progress meetings. Technical issues were resolved on the spot, and the team had ready access to resources and support from the senior production managers. “There was great teamwork all around. Our site supervisors were there to coordinate and monitor at every step of the project to avoid conflicting schedules,” Jui Yong added.

In the end, the cherry on the cake came from Mr Christian Vogel, Zeaborn’s Senior Superintendent, who expressed his satisfaction with the renewed vessel in a letter: “I would like to compliment the entire project team who worked on the conversion of the stern tube system on the TR Porthos in Tuas Yard in October 2019. My biggest thanks belongs to the Project Manager, Mr Tan Jui Yong, who has demonstrated strong project management skills in handling unforeseen technical issues… while meeting the schedule. We are aware that the renewal and conversion of the entire stern tube system is not something we encounter often but the whole team managed to deal with it and deliver (the ship) successfully. The owner representative and I were very impressed by how the project team worked relentlessly in providing solutions throughout the period. We hope to be able to work with the Marine team again soon.”