Sigmund Borgundvaag has won a lifetime achievement award for the design of offshore support vessels

Ship designer wins lifetime achievement award

A ship designer at Rolls-Royce has won a lifetime achievement award for his contribution to the design of offshore support vessels over more than 40 years.

Naval architect Sigmund Borgundvaag designed the very first Rolls-Royce UT Design vessel in 1974, a design that has influenced the industry standard for oil and gas exploration ever since.

Originally designed to handle the rough conditions of the North Sea, the UT has been adapted for a range of roles and today there are almost 800 Rolls-Royce UT Design vessels in service or on order operating in all the world’s major oil and gas fields.

Receiving the prestigious Offshore Support Journal award at a ceremony in London, Borgundvaag said: "I am honoured to receive this award and I’m extremely proud to have played a part in developing a type of ship that has gone on to play such an important role in the oil and gas industry.

“It has been thrilling to have been involved in fulfilling the demanding requirements of an industry, where as one design challenge is met there is always a new and exciting one to tackle.”

The design has been employed in various fields where there is a focus on crew safety, stability and capability, carrying out duties ranging from transporting cargo to and from rigs, to handling and positioning the anchors that keep floating rigs in position.

The UT design is also used for subsea construction vessels, seismic survey ships and ocean-going tugs, used by a number of coast guards for emergency towing and coastal protection.

"In those early days of North Sea oil, there simply wasn’t a ship robust enough to handle the harsh conditions and heavy seas,” added Borgundvaag.

“We drew on generations of experience from fishing these waters, and matched it with the technology needed to operate in a new type of deep-water oil field, always considering the safety of the crew and the demanding job these ships had to do. The result was a ship that pioneered the development of offshore oil and gas."

The first Rolls-Royce UT Design ship to enter service in 1974 is still operating today – the UT 704, originally named Stad Scotsman, is currently chartered to work in the oil fields off the coast of Nigeria under the name Reliance Star 1.

John Knudsen, president of Offshore at Rolls-Royce, said: "Sigmund has made a hugely significant impact on the oil and gas industry as we know it today. Look out to sea at any major oil city in the world, whether it’s Bergen, Aberdeen or in the Gulf of Mexico, and that familiar shape of vessel you see on the horizon can trace its origin back to Sigmund’s work of more than 40 years ago.

“Today he is still a valued part of our ship design team, inspiring the next generation of naval architects. We congratulate him on this award, and thank him for his contribution to our industry."

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