Link - article by Simon Rose and Avi Abrams

"Huge ship propellers, churning out their wakes with magnificent forcefulness..."

Contrary to the saying "Love Is the Only Propeller" big ships need huge manufactured propellers, designed to move titanic loads with maximum possible speeds.

In the past, we’ve featured several different aspects of ocean-going vessels here at Dark Roasted Blend, including our recent articles on figureheads and ship’s sterns. This time, we’re taking a look at propellers, from a variety of ships, all of different types, but all considerable in size:

(bottom left: 85 tonne propeller by Stone Marine Propulsion Ltd; top & right: propellers by MMG)

An interesting fact: when Rev. Edward Lyon Berthon invented the screw propeller in 1834/35, it was dismissed by the Admiralty as “a pretty toy which never would, and never could, propel a ship”.

The World's Largest Ship's Propellers

One of the world's largest ship's propellers has been manufactured by Hyundai Heavy Industries for a 7,200 TEU container vessel owned by Hapag Lloyd. As tall as a three storey building, the 9.1 metre diameter, six bladed propeller weighs in at 101.5 tons. The following photo is a 72 ton propeller fitted to the tanker Loannis Coloctronis:

(image credit: Arco Publishing Co. New York)

The largest (to date) propeller is built by the German company Mecklenburger Metallguss GmbH:

"Weighing in at 131 tons, the - to date – largest ship propeller made in Waren on the Müritz River drives the Emma Maersk, the world’s largest container ship, with a load capacity of up to 14,770 twenty-foot containers, a length of 397 m, a width exceeding 56 m and a height of 68 m... Together, engine and propeller allow the oceangoing giant to cruise at speeds of 27 knots (50 km/h)." (more info)

(images via)

These are the massive propellers and rudders of the Antarctic icebreaker Palmer, a research vessel working in one of the most hostile environments on Earth:

(the RVIB Palmer's propellers and rudders are protected from backing into ice by an ice knife above. Photo by Mike Watson, via)

Here see the propellers being installed on Holland America Line’s Eurodam cruise ship:

(images via 1, 2, also showing Azura's cruise ship propellers via)

(installing propellers for Nieuw Amsterdam ship, via)

These titanic propellers actually belonged to the Titanic, one of the most famous ships in history. It had three solid bronze propellers, each driven by a separate engine. The two outer propellers weighed 38 tons and the central one 17 tons:

(image via)

The Titanic was one of the finest ships of its era, but Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas is five times larger than the Titanic and is currently the largest passenger vessel ever built. Consequently, the luxurious ship required some pretty big propellers to help on the journey from the shipyard in Finland to the Oasis of the Seas’ new home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida:

(image credit: Alpmac, via)

Elation, from Carnival Cruise Lines, was also built in Finland and is currently based in San Diego, California. The ship’s propellers once again dwarf some of the people responsible for their construction and installation:

(images via 1, Matt Coffman)

Here’s a propeller being worked on in dry dock in San Francisco:

(image credit: Dave Yuhas)

This brass propeller belongs to another cruise liner, the Norwegian Epic:

(images via)

Another example of the sheer size of the propellers needed to drive these huge cruise ships, such as the Celebrity Solstice:

(image via)

These are the propellers of the Queen Elizabeth 2, commonly known as the QE2. Operated by the Cunard line, the vessel was launched in 1969 and retired from service in 2008:

(image via)

The Queen Mary 2 succeeded the QE2 as Cunard’s flagship vessel in 2004. These are some of the QM2’s spare propellers, located on the ship’s forward deck:

(image via)

This is the propeller of another famous ship from history. The German battleship Bismark was launched in February 1939, just prior to the outbreak of World War Two, before being sunk by the British in May 1941 (left image). The shipyard scene on the right shows a propeller for an oil tanker under construction in 1947:

(images via 1, 2)

Much smaller perhaps, but still interesting. This is the propeller from the type of Japanese mini-submarine that went searching for earlier models of American aircraft carriers during the raid on Pearl Harbor in December 1941:

(images via)

USS Fiske's starboard propeller at the Boston Naval Shipyard, 1946:

(photo by US Navy via)

Technology may have improved, but large ships have always needed large propellers. This is from the SS Great Britain, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel and the world’s largest vessel when it was launched in 1843. The ship crossed the Atlantic in 1845 in only 14 days, a record at the time.

(the ship's original six-bladed propeller, image via)

Shipyard workers examine one of the four brass propellers belonging to the aircraft carrier USS George Washington. Each one of the propellers weighs around 66, 000 lbs and measures 22 feet across:

(images via U.S. Navy)

Designed for a ship under construction in South Korea, this monstrous looking propeller is over 30 feet across and weighs 107 tons (left). On the right is Crystal Symphony's propeller in drydock at Lisnave, Portugal:

(images via 1, 2)

One of the giant propellers from the Soviet-era container ships:

Ready for the heavy-duty water action! -

(close up view of the shaft driver propeller of the US Navy destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill, via)



Avi Abrams is the creator, writer, and owner of Dark Roasted Blend;
Simon Rose is the author of science fiction and fantasy novels for children, including The Alchemist's Portrait, The Sorcerer's Letterbox, The Clone Conspiracy, The Emerald Curse, The Heretic's Tomb and The Doomsday Mask and The Time Camera.



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Anonymous Keith said...

Neat! I live right near Waren! But the Müritz is a lake, not a river. (I know you were quoting another source so it's not your fault.)

Anonymous Neil C said...

Anyone know why the majority of the propellers look like they're slightly ridged? Is it just due to manufacturing techniques, or does it improve efficiency or something? I would have thought it would lead to increased cavitation.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

They are pretty much smooth...but the metal shows the machining marks because they aren't POLISHED away.

Blogger Sherryist said...

Really Awesome post Avi! I loved reading about some of the older propellers. Thanks so much!

Anonymous Jalal said...

Awful props - man really makes awesome things for comfort

Anonymous Kim 'The_Pirate' said...

Avi & Simon, you refer to some props as 'steel' or 'brass'. I think you'll find that in general they all are made of bronze, as this material posesses some very desireable qualities.
I admit that the props on the Jap sub and 'Great Britain' may have been from other materials.

Neil C: The ridging is a result of the machining process. The ridges look worse than they are: when you run a hand over one of these props, the ridges can hardly be felt. They are mainly due to differences in reflection, as a function of the rotating tool head.

Anti-cavitation properties and efficiency are generally achieved by the shape and profile of the blades and hub.
However, Anti-cavitation is an area, where science and black magic to some degree overlap. I woulden't be the slightest suprised to find out that ridges or surface patterns can reduce cavitation. Think shark skin.

Anonymous Dorothy Gale said...

How about the propeller of the submarine revealed by google earth,
Probably leaked on purpose, since there probably aren't any propeller driven sub in the US Navy anymore anyway.

Anonymous Leonard Navidad said...

Really BIG!!!!

Anonymous J. Bull said...

That's really huge... I have no words for it. Unfortunately, I have never ever in my whole life travelled by a ship. So I have no idea what it would be, but as I'm seeing it should be wonderful, especially, if you have the luck to be on a such ship. Thanks for the article.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My grandfather rode on a ship during WW2, during bad storms, he said the propeler would come out of the water and shake the whole ship realy hard. Needless to say, it made a lot of sailors sick.

Anonymous Will said...

Could anyone please suggest as to what a propeller would weigh that has 15'9" diameter with four bronze blades bolted to a steel boss, we do not know much more than that as it is presently covered in mud on sunken wreck 120' down? Cheers Will

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The propellers are NOT completely smooth despite appearing so. The ridge-effect you see is the result of polishing in a particular fashion that increases efficiency and decreases damage caused by turning through the water.

It's possible for water to damage the blades, and infact boil as the propeller spins through the water.


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