Turbo-electric transmission

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The battleship USS New Mexico, launched in 1917, was the World's first turbo-electric battleship.

Turbo-electric transmission uses electric generators to convert the mechanical energy of a turbine (steam or gas) into electric energy and electric motors to convert it back into mechanical energy to power the driveshafts.

Turbo-electric drives are used in some rail locomotives (gas turbines, e.g. with the first TGV) and ships (steam and more recently gas turbines). An advantage of turbo-electric transmission is that it allows the adaptation of high-speed turbines to slow turning propellers or wheels without a heavy and complex gearbox. It has the advantage of being able to provide electricity for the ship or train's other electrical systems, such as lighting, computers, radar, and communications equipment.

Ships with turbo-electric drive[edit]

USS Langley, the US Navy's first aircraft carrier, was converted in 1920–22 to be the US Navy's first turbo-electric ship.
USS Tullibee, launched in 1960, was the US Navy's first turbo-electric submarine.



Aircraft carriers[edit]

Destroyer escorts[edit]

Troop ships[edit]


Auxiliary ships[edit]

Coast Guard cutters[edit]

Merchant ships[edit]

Uruguay. She was launched in 1927 as California, the World's first turbo-electric ocean liner.
Normandie, launched in 1932, was the World's most powerful turbo-electric steamship.
Canberra, launched in 1960, was the first ship with alternating current (AC) turbo-electric transmission.
RMS Queen Mary 2, launched in 2003, has gas turbines and is the World's largest turbo-electric ship.
Arauca (shown here) and her sister ship Antilla were launched in 1939. Their propulsion systems suffered significant technical failures on their maiden voyages.

Ocean liners[edit]

Coastal liners[edit]


  • TEV Wahine
  • TEV Rangatira – possibly the World's last steam-powered turbo-electric merchant ship; scrapped 2005
  • Union Rotorua and Union Rotoiti were both built as gas turbine ships with electric transmission. Rotoiti was subsequently re-engined to diesel.

Cruise ships[edit]

Banana boats[edit]

General cargo ships[edit]

Bulk carriers[edit]

Oil tankers[edit]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

  • Czarnecki, Joseph (31 January 2001). "Turboelectric drive in American Capital Ships". The Naval Technical Board. NavWeaps.
  • Draper, John L (December 1930). "The Paddle Wheel to Electric Drive". Popular Mechanics: 898–902. — detailed article with drawing and charts on turbo-electric drive for ships and the advantages