Underwater bow thruster removal and reinstallation in Zeebrugge

Underwater bow thruster removal and reinstallation in Zeebrugge

To save time and money for the owner of a 170-meter container ship, our divers removed the bow thruster of the vessel and reinstalled the unit two months later after it was overhauled. This was done during two subsequent stops of the ship in Zeebrugge, on schedule and without having to go to drydock.

After the team set up a monitoring station next to the vessel, the divers started the operation with a detailed inspection of the bow thruster and tunnel. In the meantime, initial preparations were made in the bow thruster engine room for the removal of the unit so that there would be no ingress of water once it was taken out.

The divers’ first action was to take off the external thruster tunnel grids to provide access for removal of the unit. Next padeyes were welded inside the tunnel to hoist the thruster unit up and down.

Hydrex technician preparing the engine room for removal of the thruster unit.

The next step was to secure the gearbox with hoisting equipment. The team then disconnected the unit from the engine room and removed it from the thruster tunnel. It was then brought to the surface. Our team then transported the unit to Rotterdam to be overhauled.

Two months later we picked up the thruster again and brought it back to Zeebrugge during the ship’s next stop in the port.

Because the thruster was fully assembled and prepared, it could be installed in its entirety without the need to create a dry environment in the tunnel as is required when the blades are installed separately. Our diver/technicians lowered it into the water and brought it into the thruster tunnel. The team secured the unit and connected it to the engine room.

Hydrex diver during reinstallation of the bow thruster.

The operation ended with the removal of the padeyes and the reinstallation of the thruster tunnel grids.


We assist shipowners with almost any problem they encounter with their vessels’ thrusters. A wide range of underwater repair or maintenance work can be carried out on all types of thrusters. An entire unit can be overhauled, propeller blades or seals can be replaced or repair work on a specific part of a thruster performed by our diver/technicians while the ship remains afloat.

By performing the operation in Zeebrugge on-site and underwater our divers made it possible for the owner to keep the vessel out of drydock. Our team worked in shifts around the clock to finish the operation as quickly as possible.

The unit at our warehouse in Antwerp, ready for transport to Rotterdam to be overhauled.
If ever you would encounter a similar situation, give us a call. We can then tell you if the repair is feasible and start working on its handling.

+32 3 213 53 00

Click on the images below for more thruster repairs and other case studies.

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