‘In Big Seas I Kept Waiting for the Slamming – It Never Came’

Captain Ulf-Peter Lindstrøm says he had to ‘relearn how to interpret vessel behaviour’ on the first Ulstein X-Bow polar cruise vessel, the Greg Mortimer. He was at the helm of the vessel during its transit from China to Argentina, when it entered ten-metre high waves and very strong winds, but the slamming never came.

The Greg Mortimer is about to set off for its first Antarctica expedition, and will cross the notorious Drake Passage on 1 November. The X-Bow feature reduces the slamming in head seas and resulting vibrations. The vessel can thus keep up speed in adverse weather to get quickly through the harshest stretches of waters, typically the Drake Passage.

Already on its first journey from the CMHI construction yard in China, the vessel came across very bad weather after leaving Cape Town heading for Ushuaia, Argentina. According to the Captain, the waves were eight to ten metres high, with some waves reaching above deck 5, and strong winds. The vessel still kept high speed of twelve to thirteen knots, with only one knot speed loss.

‘It’s a totally different experience,’ says Captain Lindstrøm, who has been a captain for twenty years. ‘In big seas, I kept waiting for the slamming, but it never came. You don’t feel the sea, you have to relearn how to interpret the vessel behaviour. Other ships can only keep half the speed.’

First Cruise Vessel with an X-Bow

The Greg Mortimer is owned by SunStone Ships from the US, but operated by Australian Aurora Expeditions. The ship was designed by Ulstein in Norway. The X-Bow was launched by Ulstein in 2005 and is implemented in more than 100 vessels worldwide, mostly offshore vessels.

‘Being an offshore specialist means that the vessels we design must be robust and handle very tough weather in some of the world’s harshest ocean areas. When Ulstein turned to the cruise industry, the cruise ship owners immediately saw the potential. The Greg Mortimer is the first cruise vessel with the X-Bow feature, but there are now several others under construction in China and Norway,’ says Tore Ulstein, deputy CEO and COO Design & Solutions at Ulstein Group.

Author: Mariska Buitendijk

Mariska Buitendijk is one of SWZ|Maritime's journalists as well as the magazine's copy editor.