Big engines

A non-engineer explaining big engines in simple terms:

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Burns too much fuel.

Considering amount of cargo moved. Compared to what?

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Compared to this probably?:

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But not compared to this:

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Compared to…the fact that in general, container ships don’t have as powerful engines as they did pre 2008 oil price increase. The huge ships of today have less powerful engines than much smaller ships of the past.

|Speed (kn)|25.2|
|Power (kw)|62920|

WinGDX92-B, 11 cylinder
58,600 kW (78,584 hp)

ball ship.

Membrane ship.

“Engine Room tour inside Steam turbine vessel LNG Leo that was built by General Dynamics in 1978.
Video tour was taken while the vessel was in lay-up at Ferrol, Spain.”

Sure, but the picture at the beginning of that video is a membrane ship.


Very true as that is not ‘a 1810 liter engine’. It is an 1810 liter PER CYLINDER engine, so assuming it’s the 12RTA96, it is a 21,720 liter engine.

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I did a couple of trips on the Maersk Boston, a 4100 teu container ship.
12 cylinder RT Flex 96 engine.
92000 horse power. Top speed 34 knots burning 350 tonnes a day.
Didn’t do that when I was on. Just half ahead manouevering for 15 knots all the way across the Pacific and back.

It seems that whenever someone posts a photograph of a marine diesel engine online, in nine cases out of ten people recognize it as a Wärtsilä-Sulzer 14RTA96C or Wärtsilä 14RT-flex96C, even if it has a different number of cylinders or is clearly, for example, a medium-speed MAN vee engine…

edit: …and this forum is usually that remaining one out of ten.

Nobody confuses the engine on my ship with a diesel.

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I’ve sailed steam but not much at all on the big diesels. I remember the chevron Mississippi and can’t believe it burned as much as the engine at the start of this thread? and I’m pretty sure it was a lot less trouble free? Of course we have to make some comparisons here but i think the steam here was just at 30K hp.

Modern piston engines may be more efficient, but they certainly eat more parts and require more hours of maintenance.

A steam turbine that isn’t abused is hardly touched in it’s lifetime…and then it’s mostly just for inspection purposes. A boiler that isn’t abused and operated correctly has minimal parts changing. Compare this to every damn port, changing some heavy part on the main and constant maintenance on the generators.

If ships could burn coal again (cheap fuel), the efficiency difference between steam and motor ships might not be much of a economic difference.


Completely agree with everything except for burning coal. Nasty business, that.

Steam is a gentleman’s métier, it is an art.


Would be difficult to meet the EEXI and CII requirements.
Besides it would mean bringing back those damn Stokers.
They controlled the speed, not Masters. If they had any complains they just shoveled slower.

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Coal is wonderful. China and India agree!

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