Ulstein Sea of Solutions

Finding the optimal solution

With a unique understanding of the operational marketplace and its client’s needs, Ulstein Sea of Solutions is the world market leader in the design of complex offshore construction vessels.

As such the company has a solid reputation in innovative projects, and turning customer visions into reality. Having initially operated under the name Sea of Solutions, the Dutch-based company became part of the Ulstein Group in 2008, and has since been known as Ulstein Sea of Solutions.

“The reason behind this incorporation was to give the business more room to grow, and because we needed more people and expertise in view of the rising number of orders. This has been a successful move as we have many competencies that are complimentary to the rest of the Ulstein Group, as almost everything we do in the Netherlands is related to the heavy offshore sector. Alongside ourselves, there is another Dutch company within the Group known as Ulstein Idea Equipment Solutions, which means that as well as designing vessels we as a group can also deliver mission equipment onboard if so required,” describes managing director of Ulstein Sea of Solutions, Bob Rietveldt.

Within this market sector, Ulstein Sea of Solutions concentrates its portfolio on exploration vessels such as drill ships and well intervention vessels, through to construction vessels including pipe laying, crane, and deepwater construction. A new market for the business has also been wind turbine foundation installation vessels, where Ulstein Sea of Solutions, together with Ulstein Idea Equipment Solutions, has developed new solutions in how to install those foundations.

“We’re constantly looking at how to expand our portfolio into other areas that are connected to the oil and gas market, or maybe we should say the offshore energy market. As such, we have recently stepped into the semi-submersible transport vessels market, which we see as still being a very good sector with room to improve on existing concepts. These are the kinds of markets that we consider to be niche, but if we see the potential to come up with a better solution for complex applications that require smart naval architectural thinking and integration of equipment, then we will always look to take advantage of that,” notes Bob.

One of Ulstein’s best known concepts is the unique ULSTEIN X-Bow® design, which since its introduction more than seven years ago has changed the way the market looks at vessel comfort and operations. The shape of the hull has been specifically designed in order to ensure soft entry into waves and therefore reduce speed loss, pitch and heave accelerations. Ulstein Sea of Solutions is applying this design to the drilling sector by working closely with a number of contractors on developing drill ships with the ULSTEIN X-Bow® design. “This will prove to be a big step forward in the size of ULSTEIN X-Bow® vessels as the largest ship today is 130 metres long, and the drill ship we are working on is 220 metres in length. Model testing has illustrated that this feature is particularly ideal for a drill ship as these types of vessels always take on the climate and environment from the bow. Therefore the ULSTEIN X-Bow® concept is of benefit in reducing motions, minimising impact loads, and increasing crew comfort,” enthuses Bob.

Other developments that Ulstein Sea of Solutions is continuing to refine are the Deepwater Enabler and innovative Floating to Fixed (F2F) concept. Built as a multi-purpose construction vessel, the Deepwater Enabler is notable for its easily customisable design, which enables it to meet the demands of both the oil and gas, and renewable energy markets. Since its launch, Ulstein Sea of Solutions has embarked on a number of contracts for wind turbine foundation installation vessels. “Whilst the tool that is predominately being used to install turbines at present is a jack-up rig, we have always seen this equipment as having limitations when moving further away from shore and into deeper water,” explains Bob.

“In these cases clients require a vessel with much greater workability, and a floating DP vessel is therefore much more effective. In its basic form the Deepwater Enabler is a platform vessel of around 160 metres by 32 or 36-metres depending upon the functional requirement, marketwith a heave compensated crane for seabed installation. We are the market leader for construction vessels and that knowledge is now paying off as the wind turbine industry looks for efficient tools that are not quite as large scale as those used in the oil and gas industry. At the same time, depending on volumes of work, the Deepwater Enabler can also be used in the oil and gas sector, which makes a far more robust business case for the vessel.”

There is no doubt that the energy market is changing constantly as the result of the global population growth and subsequent demand for energy, as well as the limitations and capabilities of the various energy sources. Whilst fossil fuels can no longer purely be relied upon, it’s clear that the offshore oil and gas sector will still play a vital role in meeting these requirements for some time.

For companies like Ulstein Sea of Solutions the challenge is to find solutions and create designs that can help facilitate these activities, particularly in the wake of the move towards deeper water exploration and harsher environments such as the Arctic. In light of this constant need for innovation, Bob concludes with Ulstein Sea of Solutions’ strategy for remaining at the head of this activity: “Within the Ulstein Group, we are building our competencies and companies around the heavy offshore maritime cluster in The Netherlands, as well as the OSV cluster we have in Norway.

“Our strategy is to continue to strengthen these clusters and the unique opportunities they offer in combination to drive the company forwards in developing total solutions on both the ship and equipment side. We see that there are too many shipyards currently competing across the globe, and in particular a large shift of work towards the Far East, but in terms of innovative and creative design we see our knowledge and expertise as remaining critical in delivering targeted vessels.”

Ulstein Sea of Solutions
Services: Naval architects and engineers