Our heritage

Across time, ULSTEIN has evolved from being a mechanical workshop to an innovator in vessel design, shipbuilding and maritime products and solutions. Here's a glimpse from our more than 100 years of history.

Read in Norwegian: Skipsbyggararven vår.

From the beginning

Norway has been a seafaring nation since the Viking age. Our Norwegian origins testify to a long tradition of maritime knowledge. For 100 years, the demanding conditions of the North Sea have shaped ULSTEIN’s quality and safety standards and created a strong foundation for meeting future challenges.

The company was established in 1917 by the then 23-year-old Martin Ulstein and his brother-in-law, Andreas Flø. It started out as a mechanical workshop to modify local fishing boats, which were undergoing a global transition from sail-power to motorization. After Martin's sudden death in 1948, his eldest son, Magnulf, took over position as yard manager, while his widow, Inga, took position as Head of the Board.

Workers at Ulstein Mek. Verksted in 1948, shortly after the death of the founder, Martin Ulstein. The eldest son and new yard manager, Magnulf Ulstein, in the front row, middle. His brother, Kolbein Ole, is sitting in the front row, utmost right. The youngest one present is their third brother, Idar, 14 years old, in a home-knitted sweater.

Passenger vessels and propeller production

In the years to follow, Ulstein would grow to a global player and take part in many technological transformations in the maritime industry. From the mid-1960s this development took place under the management of Martin's youngest son, Idar Ulstein (read full story).
In the 1960s, it was important for Ulstein Group to get started on some form of production, and the choice was to produce propellers.

The oil age introduced own ship designs adapted to North Sea conditions

The oil age in Norway appeared in the late 1960s. During this period, the company received regular enquiries concerning the construction of supply vessels of American designs, but the company believed that these vessels would not be particularly suitable for the prevailing weather conditions in the North Sea. Ulstein began to develop new types of vessels in-house. The hulls were broader and with higher freeboards for the vessels to operate safely in rough seas. Ulstein began selling their UT designs to other yards around the world, and this gave a financial strength to carry on an extensive operation within this field.

In 1999, most of the company was sold to Vickers (later acquired by Rolls-Royce), but the Ulstein family kept the the shipbuilding division, and started building the new Ulstein. A new portfolio of ship designs were developed, under the brand name ULSTEIN designs, and many products and solutions within power & control (automation) and ship designs have been developed.

The X-BOW was introduced in 2005, and the anchor handling tug supply vesel, the 'Bourbon Orca' was the first X-BOW vessel to be delivered. Today, more than 100 X-BOW vessels are under construction or have been delivered.

The company today is headed by the third generation of the family, Gunvor Ulstein and Tore Ulstein.

Innovation, solid technological solutions and on-time delivery has been important from the very beginning. The 'ULSTEIN quality' is legendary and our position as an innovator in maritime equipment and ships comes from decades of focusing on sophisticated products and services to satisfy the toughest requirements.

100 and young at heart
100 and young at heart

100 and young at heart

In 2017, we celebrated our 100 years of history. Since the beginning one hundred years ago, ULSTEIN has vigorously sought new opportunities.

Highlights from 100 years


Ulstein was established in 1917, starting with the repair and construction of fishing vessels, followed by steel newbuilds including passenger ships, ferries and design and construction of offshore vessels. Recent references include exploration cruise, RoPax, heavylift and offshore wind (SOVs, cable lay, installation).

Ship references
Ulstein Expo
Ulstein Expo

Ulstein Expo

Ulstein Expo is Ulstein Group's corporate exhibition, and is situated next to the reception in the head offices in Ulsteinvik, Norway.

Ulstein Expo - company exhibition