There is a relationship between Rolls Royce UT and Ulstein Design. Ulstein sold the UT brand in the 1990s retaining only the yard at Ulsteinvik. So, despite the sale of the design house the yard itself retains its history of having constructed both conventional and offshore vessels. Between 1956, when serious shipbuilding commenced and 1970, 35 ferries, 15 cargo ships and 36 fishing vessels of different types were constructed.

The first UT design, UT standing by the way for Ulstein Trading, was a UT301 purse seiner in 1968, and further UT designs appeared around the turn of the decade. After 1970 fewer fishing vessels, ferries and cargo ships were constructed, and in 1973 the first offshore vessel rolled of the stocks. This was almost certainly the Mammoth Tide for Tidewater, although the Maersk Tender entered service in the same year. These two ships were followed by another for Tidewater asnd three more for Maersk. There-after a succession of UT705s and then UT704s were built, then as time went on UT708s, UT706s and so on, terminating in the UT720s built for Swires.

After the sale of the UT design house together with all its accessories to Rolls Royce, Ulstein started to develop their own designs starting with the Ulstein A101 which when it appeared in 2002, which looked like the best anchor-handler which was ever likely to be available. . Four were built, and have been built up to 2016, two for Olympic and two for Solstad. Even after 14 years these four vessels maybe remain the rig moving stars of the European fleet and it will take an awful lot of super equipment to improve on them.

There followed a couple of platform ships which had a similar burly silhouette, but did not appeal to any extent beyond what other designers were producing. And it was not until 2005 that they shook the industry again with the Ulstein XBow. The first XBow vessel was the Bourbon Orca. Ulstein had by this time carried out numerous tank tests and evaluated the concept to the point that they were sure it would work at sea, and that the limitations caused by the enclosed bow would be overcome when mooring was required. The design deals with the adverse effect of pitching in head seas on conventional vessels, where, on low powered vessels speed is drastically reduced, and on high power vessels damage is likely to occur.

The Bourbon Orca was also provided with a very unusual stern which allowed anchors to be pulled onto an inclined deck which was then levelled so that the anchor would be on the deck without it having to be pulled over the roller. The Bourbon Orca was also one of the first ships to be fitted with manipulator arms on the port and starboard cargo rails. Many anchor-handlers are now fitted with manipulators on the cargo rails, and it may be worth mentioning that the only reason this is possible is that these ships now have so much sideways power that it is no longer necessary for the tow wires to be able to get round the side of the ship when it changes direction. It may also be worth noting that up to today no-one else has chosen to install one of the Ulstein special sterns.

Bourbon also ordered two XBow platform ships which when they entered service were almost immediately chartered to UK oil major BP. A number of other XBows have been produced, and in late 2015 Ulstein announced the development of the Xstern and one has been built for the windfarm business. Although not always visible in their current design book, the company continues to research means of improving their products. Now a number of years ago the company announced the possibility of redirecting of the exhausts through the sides of the vessels to give all round vision on the bridge.

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