The X Bow (Axe Bow) ship, with its revolutionary and innovative design, has created quite a sensation when it was introduced to the world. This ship was devised by the Norwegian Ulstein Group that is known for their safe, reliable, and operable designs.
Inspired by the ancient Viking ships, the X Bow, as the name suggests, has a rounded bow with a little flare in the forepart of the ship. This shape along with the increased length of a vertical prow pierces through the water instead of slamming onto the incoming waves. This adds greater buoyancy to the ship, reducing the speed and violent motion, resulting in better seakeeping. The bow with the navigating bridge mounted on top in the forepart makes large room for accommodation, and the rest of this ship is available for cargo.
The following are the advantages of the bow shape:
- Higher transit time
- Reduced fuel consumption
- Negligible slamming reducing the risk of damage to the vessel
- Lower pitch and heave accelerations, and enhanced protection of cargo areas reducing the risk of loss or damage of cargo
- Increased payload capacity for certain applications and configurations
- Improved work environment
- Prevents passenger discomfort, seasickness, and injury
The small and medium sized vessels engaged in regional trades are particularly expected to capitalize on the benefits offered by the X Bow.
The Ulstein AX104 Bourbon Orca, the first vessel of Ulstein X Bow was awarded the ‘Ship of the Year’ for 2006.The advantages of the bow shape are extended to several types of ship such as container feeder ships, open hatch bulk carrier, ro-ro carrier, and general cargo vessels. This design can also be applied to large deep-sea ships over 50,000 tons and also for short sea vessels. The construction costs are also lower as against the conventional ships. The Ulstein Group has made arrangements to incorporate this design for a new class of short-sea shipping vessels also.
The beginnings for this design can be attributed to the late 1990s to the collaboration between Damen Shipyard, a commercial and military vessels builder, and the faculty of Delft University of Technology. The concept they developed was known as the Enlarged Ship Concept (ESC). ESC was refined in the year 2003 with additional participation from the U.S Coast Guard and the Maritime Research Institute Netherlands (MARIN), eventually leading to the bow design. This design was specifically developed to improve the seakeeping at high speed and ensuring 100% operability on North Sea at 50 knots with a 50 (164’) meter patrol boat, according to Jaap Gelling, Product Director of Damen. And an advantageous side effect to this is the reduction in resistance from 10 to 15% in flat water compared to a conventional fast vessel.
With the Ulstein Group winning Norway’s ‘Ship of the Year’ award in 2007 also, the bow design could be expected to win most of the awards in the coming years as well.
References: stowmasters, ulsteingroup