Schaeffler supplies bearings for lifting system on Pioneering Spirit

Written by: Tom Austin-Morgan | Published:

Schaeffler will supply more than 240 bearings, with diameters ranging from 400 to 1060mm, for the Topsides Lift System on the Pioneering Spirit, a purpose-built ship used for the installation and decommissioning of offshore oil platforms.

Pioneering Spirit is the world’s largest working ship. As well as installing oil platforms and laying pipelines, the vessel is equipped with a Topsides Lift System (TLS) that has a capacity of up to 48,000T. This enables the installation of extremely heavy platform topsides, while its Jacket Lift System (JLS) can remove and install steel platform substructures weighing up to 25,000T each.

Schaeffler is supplying custom designed, maintenance-free large spherical plain bearings with an ELGOGLIDE sliding layer for the TLS levers and the TLS hydraulic cylinders.

As the ship moves into position alongside an offshore oil platform, which is anchored to the seabed, the movements of the ocean waves cause enormous loads on the ship. The function of the TLS levers is to compensate for these loads. In turn, the TLS hydraulic cylinders ensure that the platform topsides can be elevated and lifted off safely without causing any damage. This means the bearings must provide very high load carrying capacities in order to compensate for these loads and to allow for movement of the hydraulic cylinders.

Schaeffler’s spherical plain bearings in X-life quality are equipped with maintenance-free ELGOGLIDE material. The bearings are certified by Lloyd’s Register to meet the safety requirements of the marine industry. They also have an optimised screw connection on the axially split outer ring to improve its adhesive properties and to optimise moisture resistance.

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