No compromise

In 2007 Ultra Dynamics celebrated 50 years in waterjet propulsion. For these five decades the company has developed mission-specific custom military waterjets and supplied in-water propulsion for amphibious vehicles. Pod waterjets for wheeled and tracked amphibious armoured fighting vehicles and personnel carriers provide the high thrust necessary for optimum swimming speeds and manoeuvring when traversing flowing rivers and for operating to and from beaches. Both pod and hull inserted waterjets have been engineered specifically for this market sector resulting in a strong presence with navies, coastguards and government agencies worldwide.

Today waterjet propulsion offering high speed and high thrust is often the preferred form of propulsion for many fast craft applications. When comparing waterjets size for size, UltraJet waterjets offer excellent high and low speed thrust, enhanced manoeuvrability, and shallow draught operation. The higher thrust capability of an UltraJet propulsion system enables craft to reach planning speeds quickly. Thrust is an important issue, especially when craft are often built heavier than originally specified, or are used to carry additional loads.

In the mid-1990s, Ultra Dynamics introduced the UltraJet range of high performance waterjets and control systems, which were derived in many ways from the military-quality waterjets the company was already producing. Steady progress has been made in increasing the UltraJet model range and building up an impressive reference list of successful applications in the military, commercial workboat and leisure sectors. During this period the company has delivered more than 16,000 units worldwide into the military and commercial sectors.

The biggest regions where the company’s products are sold are the UK, Norway, France, the Far East and the US. In addition, as Mike Lane, technical director of Ultra Dynamics’ UK facility explains: “Our market today is already worldwide, but we continually investigate new markets and areas for growth and to form new and advantageous partnerships around the globe.”

The Norwegian and French markets have continued to grow, as boat builders are continually looking for superior products and performance for their boats. To achieve this goal, many builders and operators have been willing to try UltraJet, as an alternative to their current suppliers.

To meet the demands of these new clients, the company’s Engineering Department is focusing on new and larger UltraJet models. Following Ultra Dynamics’ practice, the new models will be constructed from marine grade aluminium alloy, with the impeller, impeller ring, and shafts made from stainless steel. The materials and design emphasise high performance, efficiency, and durability to permit reduced operating costs for boat owners and operators.

“In 2011 we introduced the UltraJet 251HT (High Thrust) specifically for lower speed craft – the UJ251HT has a similar physical size and weight to the standard UJ251, however, it utilises a different impeller to achieve higher thrust per horsepower compared to the standard UJ251, and similar-size waterjets,” explains Mike. “The UJ251 and the UJ251HT have similar hull footprints enabling boat builders to offer a standard UJ251 for most general applications and the UJ251HT as an option for heavier boats, towing, or high bollard-pull applications. The intake housing is designed for good water flow to the impeller at lower boat speeds and for sprint speeds up to approximately 35 knots, depending on hull type.

“The UJ251HT follows the success and popularity of the UltraJet 305HT that also provides high thrust and bollard pull in a compact installation envelope. In fact, Grovfjord recently fitted their 60th boat, ‘MS Sonja’ with an UltraJet 305HT,” Mike adds.

UltraJet 305 waterjets have also been successfully installed on a patrol boat built by Tampa Yacht Manufacturing in St. Petersburg, Florida and Alnmarintec’s new Wave Protector class fast patrol boats. Furthermore, Ultra Dynamics has developed a close working relationship with South Boats, the world-leading designer and builder of wind-power service vessels. “To date South Boats have delivered over 40 catamaran crew vessels fitted with UltraJet propulsion and control systems, and most are in daily operation with UK and European wind-power service providers,” says Mike.

He adds: “The expansion of offshore wind-power installations, especially in the UK and Europe, has spawned a growing need for boats to service wind farms. To date more than 40 wind-farm support vessels have been fitted with UltraJet 377, 452, 525 and 575 waterjets.”

Offshore wind power generation is a key component of the UK’s commitment to deliver 20 per cent of gross final energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020. Efforts to meet this target are prompting the design of ever- larger wind farm service vessels that will meet the arduous 24/7 servicing requirements of these turbines.

At SeaWork in June 2012 Ultra Dynamics announced the introduction of its new UltraJet JetMaster 2 DNV Class approved electronic control system for wind farm support vessels (WFSV). “Offering new, innovative and cost effective solutions is key to staying ahead of the competition and to do this we introduced the new UltraJet JetMaster 2 – a CANbus two in one electronic control system to meet WFSV customers’ specific vessel control requirements.

“JetMaster 2 can be configured to meet any service provider’s exact control requirements. Controlling twin UltraJet waterjets, engines and gearboxes electronically and synchronously – at a flick of a switch the operator can move between the primary and secondary system– the system then not in use becomes the complete redundancy backup system (a requirement for DNV Class approval). The specification requirements called for JetMaster 2 to be robust, reliable and adaptable, as well as being highly responsive with excellent manoeuvrability, even in the harshest sea state conditions,” says Mike.

Ultra Dynamics’ JetMaster 2 electronic control system can also integrate with other control and data recording systems as well as other helm station control devices.

The construction of support vessels serving the growing offshore wind power generation industry has been buoyant the past few years, and as many of these purpose-built support vessels use UltraJet propulsion, has undoubtedly been significant in Ultra Dynamic’s success over the last three years. “This is in combination with our high-quality, durable, high-performing products, which are created by a highly-skilled workforce of marine and mechanical engineers,” notes Mike. “As a privately-owned operation we are able to quickly respond to customer needs, and by working with boat designers, builders and end users, we are able select the most effective UltraJet propulsion system to deliver optimum propulsive efficiency, taking into account the characteristics of the hull and engine. Performance, fuel consumption, range, and endurance predictions are available using our advanced software. Detailed installation advice, commissioning assistance and training programs are available to support individual projects as well as servicing support.

“When customers deal with us they get more than just a system or component – they are supported from concept to boat going into service. The support continues for as long as the product remains in service.”

Having seen such success over the years it has been in business, Ultra Dynamics is determined to maintain its position at the forefront of the market. Mike concludes: “We will continue to grow both in units shipped and market share with the introduction of more UltraJet models and second-generation control systems, along with expanding support for the growing population of UltraJet units in commercial service. We are currently expanding our Service and Quality Departments and benefiting from greater use of internet access for design and application engineering, spare parts, and service documentation. But most importantly, we will ensure we always listen to the existing and future needs of boat builders and end-users.”

Company founded in the mid-1950s
World leading manufacturer of waterjets
Variety of integrated systems available