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Thordon Bearings polymer pioneer wins Sperry Award

Written by Marine Log Staff
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George A. (Sandy) Thomson

Thordon Bearings founder George A. (Sandy) Thomson, a pioneer in the development of advanced polymer materials, has been presented with the 2019 Elmer A. Sperry Award in recognition of “leading the innovation in water-lubricated propeller shaft bearings” in marine transportation through the use of polymeric compounds.

The Elmer. A. Sperry award is given jointly by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the Society of Automotive Engineers, the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, the American Society of Civil Engineers, and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers

The 2019 award was presented to Thomson at the SNAME Maritime Convention, in Tacoma, USA, by the Chairman of the Board of the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST), Richard Vie, a long-time friend and collaborator.

As Carnival Corporation’s former Vice-President, Technical Development and Quality Assurance – Shipbuilding, Vie was instrumental in promoting the use of water-lubricated polymer shaft bearings in the cruise industry, with the sector’s first application installed aboard the Grand Princess, in 1998.

“The Elmer A. Sperry Award for Advancing the Art of Transportation is one of the highest accolades given for an individual’s contribution to transportation engineering,” said Vie. ‘I am truly honored and privileged to hand this award over to a friend, a collaborator and a true pioneer.’

“There was growing concern for the marine environment when Sandy’s oil- and grease-free polymer bearings were first introduced the late 1970s,” noted Vie. “Embracing this vision for cleaner seas led him to develop an environmentally safe, seawater lubricated propeller shaft bearing. Sandy’s bearing solution not only protects the environment but it provides a robust and reliable system that is a match for, and indeed better, than any other solution.”

The world’s first Thordon water lubricated propeller shaft bearing was installed on a Great Lakes tug owned by McKeil Marine in Hamilton in the late 1970s. Since then, Thordon bearings have been installed or retrofitted to vessels operating in every shipping sector, including cruiseships, passenger ferries, containerships, tankers, bulk carriers, general cargo ships, naval vessels, workboats, riverboats and offshore support vessels.

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