Ship Diesel Engines

Ship Diesel Engines

Most ships and other forms of water crafts use diesel engines for providing the necessary propulsion power to the vessel. Of course I used the word “most” since there are other forms of power as well such as steam and nuclear powered ship engines.

Before going into the details and engineering aspects of ship History,diesel engines, I would like to tell you briefly about the history of diesel engines in general. The man behind the invention of these engines was a German engineer by the name of Rudolf Christian Karl Diesel (1858 -1913). Diesel engines are a form of Internal Combustion engines, where the combustion of the fuel takes place inside the combustion chamber.

Currently diesel engines find popular use in various types of surface, water and air transport including but not limited to ships, boats, cars, trains and so on. In this website we would focus on the types of diesel engines used in ships and other types of water crafts.


Although the basic principles of all types of diesel engines remain the same, still there are lots of variations which can be used to classify or categorize these engines under various subheads. These are based on different parameters and a list of these categories is given below.

  • Classification based on speed – slow, medium, high
  • Classification based on working principle – two stroke, four stroke
  • Classification based on arrangement of engine cylinders – vertical, radial

I must also say that the above list is not complete but only you give you an idea about the types of engines. We will learn about the internal construction and working of these engines in our subsequent articles. You will also find out about individual components of these engines, their functions.

Although this is too early to tell about the details, yet to give to glimpse of the things to come, just remember that when talking about ships the main propulsion is carried out with the help of big two stroke diesel engines, whilst the smaller/faster 4-stroke engines are used for power generation.

Just in case you want to know how a ship diesel engines looks like, take a look at the image below. You can realize about the gigantic size of such a marine diesel engine from the stairways leading to different platforms

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