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Cutting edge design from Norway

Norwegian ship design is challenging established shipping concepts. Innovative designers have developed a new bow shape that makes vessels safer, as well as reducing their impact on the environment.

The ship Island Constructor was launched in early 2008. This is the largest vessel to date with the revolutionary X-Bow system, which has been developed by the Norwegian Ulstein Group. The new bow design makes the vessels better equipped to tolerate extreme weather conditions, while at the same time having environmental benefits.

“Offshore vessels with the Ulstein X-Bow system are designed to be able to maintain their speed, even in stormy conditions with high waves, since the bows cut through the waves. Another advantage of the design is that the impact of waves on the bow, so-called slamming, is completely eliminated. So far, experience with the X-Bow design indicates that vessels with this system are 4–7% more fuel-efficient than vessels with conventional bows, depending on how they are operated,” comments sales manager Lars Ståle Skoge in Ulstein Design.

“The inverted bow shape means that vessels with this feature have exceptionally soft entry into oncoming waves,” comments Lars Ståle Skoge in Ulstein Design. Photo: Norwegian Design Council.
 
The new bow design also means improved safety and comfort for the ship’s crew. “The inverted bow shape means that vessels with this feature have exceptionally soft entry into oncoming waves,” Mr Skoge continues.

It is only a year or so since the first ship of this kind was completed, and the shipyard Ulstein Verft has already built two new vessels with the special bow design. In addition, six vessels are on order from Ulstein, and a further four ships with the Ulstein X-Bow system are currently being constructed in China.

In 2006, the Bourbon Orca, an ULSTEIN AX104 and the first vessel to have the Ulstein X-Bow, was named “Ship of the Year” by the Norwegian maritime magazine Skipsrevyen (the Shipping Review) and the Offshore Support Journal. In 2005 the Ulstein X-Bow was voted “Engineering Achievement of the Year” (Årets Ingeniørbragd) by readers of the Norwegian technical journal Teknisk Ukeblad.

The company Ulstein Mek. Verksted was established in 1917 by Martin Ulstein. The company is still run by members of the Ulstein family, and currently has around 680 employees.

The special bow design means improved safety and comfort for the ship’s crew. Photo: Norwegian Design Council.

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