Typically, we tend to reserve vessels equipped with eight cranes for our sister publication, Offshore Marine Technology. However, the 107m x 18.01m explorer yacht Ulysses has proven to be anything but ‘typical’, matching the luxurious onboard environment one would expect from a superyacht – complete with a gross tonnage of 5,937tonnes– with a robust functionality more akin to an offshore support vessel (OSV).
This is perhaps not surprising, given that Ulysses is the first private superyacht to have left Kleven’s shipyard in Norway – a site better known for its commercial output, including polar exploration ships, cable-laying vessels and similar OSVs. Ulysses was ordered by Graeme Hart, a New Zealand businessman.
Similarly, the contract proved a relative novelty for Norwegian deck equipment specialist Palfinger Marine, which supplied Ulysses’ eight cranes, in cooperation with its long-standing, compatriot partner Bergen Hydraulic. “We’ve delivered several cranes for yachts in the past,” Bernd Huemer, sales manager for offshore at Palfinger Marine, tells Ship & Boat International, “but normally no more than one or two units per vessel.”
While it is common knowledge that superyacht sizes have been steadily increasing, Ulysses has managed to raise the bar admirably. Featuring a displacement steel hull and aluminium superstructure, the seven-floor vessel boasts the capacity for 30 guests accommodated in 15 suites, spread across three of Ulysses’ decks, in addition to 42 crew members, each assigned a single berth. The owner, meanwhile, enjoys a deck to himself – here, the master bedroom is connected to a private aft deck, complete with office and lounge space. Other facilities include: a 400m² pool deck; a 12m swimming pool; a 12-person Jacuzzi; a cinema; a viewing deck, situated 21m above sea level; and a helideck, capable of accommodating a Bell 429 or EC145 helicopter.
Again, while such features might be surprising for the ‘average’ superyacht, they tend to make more sense when one considers that Ulysses’ design was supplied by Marin Teknikk – one of Norway’s leading lights when it comes to deepwater solutions. Interior design, meanwhile, was sourced from the UK, courtesy of H2 Yacht Design – meaning that, while Ulysses may appear as if it is preparing to engage in platform decommissioning or wind turbine installation tasks when viewed externally, with its cranes raised, the vessel remains very much a high-end, luxurious superyacht on the inside.
Vessel range, however, is seemingly more in keeping with an offshore behemoth. A formidable arrangement of six Caterpillar DE 3516 main engines and twin azimuth stern drives grants Ulysses a cruising speed of 15knots, increasing to 16.8knots flat out, and the vessel’s range is specified at 8,500nm, courtesy of a fuel capacity of 470,000litres – thereby outpacing a sizeable number of OSVs. Ulysses has been developed to draw 5.11m and, just in case the offshore similarities haven’t sufficiently been driven home yet, the superyacht has been ice-classed by DNV GL.
The vessel’s immense onboard space, however, will also be used to house the owner’s extensive collection of ‘toys’ – including a 21m tender, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), motorbikes and jetskis. “Ulysses carries many smaller vessels,” says Palfinger Marine’s Huemer. “Launching those is the major purpose for six of the cranes.”
The Palfinger Marine deliveries comprise: two heavy-duty PFM4500 foldable knuckle boom cranes; four PK 90002 M extension booms; and two smaller PC2700 compact cranes. Starting in order, Huemer explains: “The PFM4500s’ purpose is to lift Ulysses’ tender boat to and from the sea.” Monikered U-21, the 21m tender, intended for deep-sea fishing and other cruising activities, is stowed on Ulysses’ foredeck, features five cabins for up to seven guests and is powered by four engines and four waterjets, enabling it to achieve a speed of 49knots. The tender was built and supplied by New Zealand’s Composite Projects. To deal with this tender, each PFM 4500 has a capacity of 25tonnes.
The four PK 90002 M booms – two mounted on each side of the yacht – were installed to launch and retrieve smaller vessels, while the two PC2700s can be utilised to both transfer the land vehicles and jetskis onto a Munson landing craft, which will then head for shore, and handle internal lifting jobs.
As a result of this unique contract, Palfinger Marine believes that it may have discovered a new market niche, one that could prove extremely useful while the offshore oil and gas sector struggles to recover. Indeed, the group has scooped a second order; namely, to supply an identical crane package to a follow-up yacht to Ulysses, ordered once more at Kleven by the same owner. The new vessel will be slightly longer, at 116m, though it remains to be seen whether Graeme Hart keeps hold of this forthcoming yacht or, once more, puts it up for sale.