AX104 has distinctive X Bow

April 4, 2005

Ulstein Verft to build innovative AHTS for Bourbon

Ulstein Verft AS has signed a contract with Bourbon Offshore Norway, a subsidiary of Groupe Bourbon for construction of an ULSTEIN AX104 design anchor handling vessel.

The contract also includes an option for a second vessel

The most striking feature of the vessel is incorporation of the distinctive ULSTEIN X-BOW from Ulstein Design AS, but other innovations include diesel electric propulsion and a new safe anchor handling system.

Ulstein Verft says Bourbon Offshore has been a prime mover in making this "quantum leap forward" in anchor handling technology possible.

"This will be one of the first anchor handling vessels (AHTS) in the world with diesel electric propulsion," says the president of Ulstein Design AS, Tore Ulstein.

"Once this innovation is combined with the introduction of a system from ODIM that increases the safety of anchor handling...and a completely new bow design, the solutions will be highly sought after," he adds.

"The innovations improve all the onboard components: safety, the environment, comfort, efficiency, fuel consumption and sea keeping qualities," continues Ulstein."Bourbon Offshore Norway was tough enough to initiate the project, and now they have also decided that the vessel should be built. This choice proves that Bourbon Offshore Norway is a prime mover in innovation."

AX104 has distinctive X Bow


The most noticeable innovation in the ULSTEIN AX104 is the new bow shape. The X-bow slopes backwards instead of forwards.

"The vessel cleaves the waves in such a way that noise and vibration in the vessel are reduced," explains Ulstein. "The hull's shape reduces slamming against the vessel, and there is little sea spray on deck. This contributes to greater operational safety in rough seas."

"Thinking new is important at Ulstein Design and something we try to do." he continues. "However, thinking new is not enough; you have to have bold shipping companies who dare to be the first. Bourbon Offshore Norway has proved to be in this category. They immediately got excited about the bow's shape, and the vessel is thus now being built."

Bourbon Offshore Norway's marketing director, Trond Myklebust, says "we really liked the bow design, and the model tests showed that it is terrific compared with conventional designs."

"Besides lower fuel consumption," notes Myklebust, "the bow improves comfort onboard, which results in a better rested crew. By choosing a vessel of this type, we are setting a completely new standard for offshore vessels of the future."

AX104 has Odim SAHS anchor handling system


The ship features a SAHS (Safe Anchor Handling) system from ODIM of Hjorungavag, cliamed to be a "new, revolutionary system for anchor handling operations...that will improve safety onboard the fleet of anchor handling vessels."

The contract for the Bourbon Offshore AX104 SAHS and the optioned second vessel is worth a total of around NOK 45 million for ODIM. The first system will be delivered towards the end of 2005.

The system was developed in partnership with Bourbon Offshore Norway and Ulstein Design and patent protection has been applied for.

ODIM has more than 30 years of experience in the development of safe, efficient handling solutions for the maritime industry, including the seismic, offshore supply and subsea markets. The development of ODIM SAHS helps to further underline ODIM's focus on safe, efficient handling.

"Methods have been developed which mean that sailors are protected during the most hazardous operations such as capturing anchor chains' pennant wires, shackling and unshackling cables, and capturing buoys," comments Tore Ulstein. "We have also made changes to some of the details of the vessel itself to improve safety," reports Tore Ulstein.

Trond Myklebust says that anchor handling methods, and the risks they involve, have not changed in 20 years.

"Everyone agrees that the risks are far too great in anchor handling work, and we are do something about it by contracting this vessel," says Myklebust.

The source of inspiration for developing SAHS, he says, was an invitation from Statoil to develop safer anchor handling.

"In partnership with ODIM and Ulstein Design we have developed a total concept," notes Myklebust.

"We have drawn on the expertise and experience of skippers, sailors, crane operators and platform bosses, as well as the expertise of our partners," he says. "The maritime cluster in Northwestern Norway provides a foundation for the development of good innovation projects in partnership with companies. With essential support from the Research Council of Norway, we have achieved a result that we believe revolutionizes vessel safety within anchor handling."


"Diesel electric propulsion results in lower lifecycle costs, discharges of environmentally hazardous gasses are reduced and vessels are more maneuverable," says Tore Ulstein.

"While conventional systems are cheaper to purchase," continues Ulstein, "a vessel with diesel electric propulsion systems will save several million NOK in fuel costs each year." In addition to this, engine running time is reduced, thus also reducing wear and tear. However, in the offshore fleet it is only supply vessels that have thus far adopted diesel electric and the new ULSTEIN AX104 will be one of the world's first diesel electric AHTS vessels.

"We believe that diesel electric systems benefit anchor handling vessels more than they do platform supply vessels, because much of the work is taken up by pure waiting," says Trond Myklebust.

"With conventional propulsion all the machinery is running all the time, while with diesel electric propulsion, only the power needed is extracted. This is very good, both financially and environmentally," he says



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