X-Bow: Innovating an old industry
When it comes to naval architecture and boat design, innovation and change doesn’t happen that quickly. That’s not to say, there aren’t amazing new technologies being implemented in the boating world, but instead, it's just that it’s an established industry, and boat design is an established profession with long-held concepts and ideas about proper design. And, it takes a long time to design and build big ships, so it's a slow process.
And this is all to say, it’s really amazing when something comes along and completely bucks that established thought. In the case of boat design, it’s the X-Bow.
The X-Bow, conceived by Ulstein, a firm in Norway, rethinks the basic shape of a boat by blunting the front end of a ship, giving it a backward sloping bow and making it look more like a submarine than a ship.
This seemingly simple design change achieves three things. First, it makes the ride of the boat much smoother. It decreases drag, which saves fuel. And, it makes it so waves can’t climb over the bow of the ship, which reduces spray and increases safety.
(Fast forward to the 3:10 mark in the video below to see side-by-side comparisons of traditional ship design with the X-Bow.)
All this makes for much better living and working situation for the crew. Since, it’s debut in 2005, the X-Bow has been widely adopted by oil and gas companies and it will be interesting to see just how ubiquitous it becomes. The U.S. Coast Guard has already ordered one.
As for Ulstein, the company behind the X-Bow, now they’re working on the X-Stern.
Read more about X-Bow design at gCaptain.