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What lubricants do commercial vessels use?

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Ships that work hauling cargo are classed as commercial vessels. As you can imagine, to keep a competitive fleet, operators must ensure their transports are operating at maximum efficiency and, as a result, their innerworkings need effective lubrication. It is understood that operating in maritime conditions requires built-for-purpose solutions that can withstand often extreme environmental conditions, as well as intense work rates. Additionally, different classes of commercial vessel have different sizes of engines. As a result, there are a wide range of different lubrication solutions available for use by commercial vessels.

In this blog, we’ll take a detailed look at the diverse selection of fluids, oils and greases used in commercial vessels designed by research and development labs at today’s cutting leading lubrication manufacturers. Read on for a run down on just some of the products in use today.

Marine cylinder oils

Many manufacturers making lubricants designed for commercial vessels offer marine cylinder oils engineered for use with two-stroke diesel engines that are powered by an extensive array of residual fuels. These marine oils are typically designed for ease of use for crews onboard and to reduce any risks of engine breakdown while at sea. They are also specifically designed to ensure commercial vessels are operating according to environmental regulations.

The oils promote engine cleanliness and offer efficient acid neutralisation. They can also reduce the build-up of unwanted deposits on piston crowns, liners and rings.

Marine system oils

For commercial vessels requiring lubrication for slow speed, two-stroke, crosshead-type diesel engines, marine system oils are ideal as they are imbued with special anti-oxidant properties that help fleet operators prevent excessive engine wear. They can mitigate common maritime problems like engine rust, as well as corrosion. They also have superior insoluble separation and water separation abilities to mitigate build-up of liquid issues.

They are typically offered in a wide range of viscosity grades, ensuring maritime operators can ensure the optimum level of system oil viscosity during top up. The qualities of these oils include exceptional thermal stability, foam resistance and detergency, along with providing dependable protection for all components lubricated. System oils are designed to meet original equipment manufacturer requirements for shaft bearings, oil-cooled pistons and crankshafts.

Trunk piston engine oils

Trunk piston oils are available suited to commercial vessels using high-medium speed, four-stroke diesel engines at sea. They are usually designed to be compatible with all the amin fuel types used, including low and high sulphur fuel oil, marine diesel and gas oil.

These engine oils are suitable for multiple applications, including dual fuel four-stroke engines, single fuel four-stroke diesel engines, reduction gears, stern tubes and bearings. Their formula involves a refined base oil combined with the latest additive technology to deliver exceptional engine cleanliness and high safety margins for fleet operators.

Marine auxiliary oils

Commercial vessel operators need marine lubricants that can resist broad variations of temperature, along with extreme pressures, while working at fast speeds and under heavy loads. Marine auxiliary oils range are designed to answer this challenge and are suited to a diverse range of onboard machinery.

Applications include modern hydraulic systems; reciprocating air compressors; screw air compressors and vane compressors; gear drives for centrifuges; main propulsion; elevators and deck machinery; vacuum pumps and heavy-duty turbochargers; refrigeration and air compressor lubrication; and liquified petroleum gas and liquified natural gas compressors, as well as heat transfer installations employing thermal fluid circulation in both closed and open circuits.

Auxiliary oils are engineered to minimise maintenance and maximise active service life of machinery while operating inside a high safety margin.

Marine greases

Robust marine grease is formulated to offer commercial vessels superior machinery lubrication under the toughest conditions. Using advanced formulas, the enhanced characteristics of maritime greases offer the highest levels of both lubrication and pumpability, even when equipment onboard is working at high temperatures and speeds.

Many maritime greases are engineered with both anti-corrosion and anti-oxidation properties. They are typically suited for use with bearings subjected to shock and heavy loading at high rotation speeds, guide and plain sleeve bearings, slow oscillating bearings working under extreme pressure, and bush journal bearings.

Greases are also designed with outstanding levels of water resistance, even when in contact with high water volumes.


Finally, it’s understood that owning and managing a commercial vessel requires a significant investment. To attain the maximum efficiency from this asset while protecting it, fleet operators must maintain the cooling systems of its engine in an exceptional condition.

High-quality coolants and corrosion inhibitors use the latest technology to deliver maximum performance and extended active service life for vessel engines, reducing maintenance costs overall. Leading options available on the market today are also designed with carefully selected non-pollutant ingredients to protect the environment. Such coolants include no phosphates, silicates or nitrate and keep companies compliant with legislation.

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