Motors for Ship Propulsion

James L. Kirtley, Arijit Banerjee, Steven Englebretson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Electric propulsion of ships has experienced steady expansion for several decades. Since the early 20th century, icebreakers have employed the flexibility and easy control of direct current (dc) motors to provide for ship operations that split ice with back and forth motion of the ship. More recently, cruise ships have employed diesel-electric propulsion systems to take advantage of the flexibility of diesel, as opposed to steam engines, and because the electric plant can also be used for hotel loads. Research vessels, ferries, tankers, and special purpose vessels have also taken advantage of increased flexibility and fuel efficiency with electric propulsion. Today, the U.S. Navy is building an 'all electric' destroyer to be named 'Zumwalt,' which employs two induction motors for propulsion. There are several different classes of motors that might be considered for use in ship propulsion, ranging from dc (commutator) motors through conventional induction and synchronous motors to permanent magnet synchronous machines, doubly fed machines and superconducting alternating current (ac) and acyclic homopolar machines. This review paper describes features of some of the major classes of motor that might be used in ship propulsion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7317729
Pages (from-to)2320-2332
Number of pages13
JournalProceedings of the IEEE
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Acyclic motors
  • direct current (dc) motors
  • induction motors
  • permanent magnet motors
  • ship propulsion
  • synchronous motors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Motors for Ship Propulsion'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this