With water lubricated shafts, the point of sealing the shaft needed to be positioned for access and that required a connecting tube to the sealing gland location. With oil lubricated bearings, a tube was required to contain the oil. As more ships are now being fitted with water lubricated bearings, the need for the ubiquitous stern tube becomes questionable. This paper will address the potential for fundamental design changes to vessel construction from the perspective of material cost reduction and the simplification of ship-building procedures, based on elimination of the stern tube. As propulsion systems evolve into increasingly complex packages this initiative toward simplification may have appeal.

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