The Mover and Shaker

Both desi and foreign players are tapping into India’s potential marine engine market

Palak Gupta

Of all the reported adventures from the seas, the least glamorous is the ‘move’ element of a naval vessel which includes the main propulsion system, power generation and distribution network.

Rolls-Royce’s MT30 marine gas turbine engine

A naval vessel can effectively be explained through its ‘Float’, ‘Move’ and ‘Fight’ elements. In addition to it, the ‘move’ also comprises all auxiliary systems on board including firefighting, alternators, other electrical equipment, control systems, ventilation and air conditioning etc. The ship’s hydraulics, pneumatics, pumps etc are also part of this. British naval officer and poet, Rear Admiral Ronald A. Hopwood aptly mentioned in a poem  ‘…no man seeth the piston, But it driveth the ship none-the-less’.

A marine engine is the most crucial component of a ship because it is responsible for the propulsion of the vessel helping it sail from one port to another. Marine propulsion is the mechanism or system used to generate thrust to move a ship or boat in the water.

The type of propulsion system is largely dependent on the displacement, purpose and the role played by warship, that is, destroyer, frigate, corvette, boat, aircraft carrier, or auxiliary vessels (tankers, off-shore patrol vessels, etc).


Types of Marine Engines

From steam turbine propulsion systems to modern-day gas turbines, sailing has come a long way. Marine engines, today, are not only limited to the manoeuverability of ships but also focused on securing two things—marine ecosystem and cost efficiency. The different kinds include diesel, electric, diesel-electric and gas turbine. The advancement in technology has allowed room for the development of more environmentally friendly and efficient engines.

Diesel Propulsion: This system is the most commonly used marine propulsion system converting mechanical energy from thermal forces. Diesel propulsion systems are mainly used in almost all types of vessels. The primary requirement of diesel engines is to have low noise levels and high reliability.

Gas Turbine Propulsion: Gas turbine propulsion is an evolved system as it facilitates in the swifter movement of the ships which is crucial in case the ship comes under attack.

Diesel-Electric Propulsion: This system uses a combination of a generator operated by electricity attached to a diesel motor. Submarines and merchant ships incorporate the diesel-electric propulsion system to propel themselves.

It’s Innovation Time

Carbon-free Future: Keeping in tandem with the Paris Agreement, Rolls-Royce joined the UN COP26 Race to Zero campaign with an ambition to play a leading role in “pioneering a resilient, inclusive, net zero carbon future.”

With this, the firm will become net zero carbon in its operations by 2030 and also set an ambition to play a leading role in enabling the sectors in which they operate to reach net zero carbon by 2050 through the development of advanced technologies.

Driving step changes in the efficiency of engines, as well as working together with the fuels industry to significantly ramp up the availability of lower carbon alternative fuels, leading an ambitious consortium to build small modular nuclear power stations that can provide competitive, clean, low carbon power at scale.


One Stop for Collated Engine data: Rolls Royce’s involvement in naval propulsion spans 50 years and has seen the company pioneer some of the most important technical advances in marine propulsion including the use of aero gas turbines for surface ship propulsion.

This also includes MTU Marine Automation EM 50-2 Integrated Bridge System, which is a modern integrated bridge that forms the central point of access to all information crucial to safe and efficient ship operation. The information which previously scattered over diverse displays is now collated at a standardized display using a single graphic interface which enables faster overview using an ultra-modern visuals concept.

The captured data can also be stored and transferred for further analysis at a later date. These findings can then be used, for example, to increase availability, reduce life-cycle costs and further enhance operational reliability.

MTU is the Rolls-Royce brand of high-speed engines and propulsion systems and a part of Rolls-Royce Power systems business globally, headquartered in Germany.Interestingly, in the land defence space, Rolls-Royce MTU engines power the Indian Army’s indigenously built Arjun Main Battle Tanks.The MTU engines also power many Indian Coast Guard and Indian Navy vessels

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