Founded in 1856, Uljanik Group in Pula, Croatia, is one of the oldest shipyards in the world. Yet when the company set out to reduce fuel consumption for Siem Car Carrier’s Cicero vessel, it turned to modern materials.

Uljanik had been exploring the use of composites in shipbuilding applications since 2006, when it became a partner in a European Union-funded research project. The DE-LIGHT Transport project was launched to demonstrate innovative integrated lightweight modules for commercial ships. Siem Cicero would become the first real-world application of this research, using composite sandwich materials for the pure car/truck carrier (PCTC).

Only the top three decks of the 13-deck ship were made of composite sandwich panels. “The idea was to reduce the weight in the upper zone of the vessel to improve the stability properties and reduce the required counterweight in the lower zone,” says Vito Radolovic, senior designer for Uljanik.

The three composite decks on the Siem Cicero, such as the one shown here, can carry up to 1,500 of the ship’s 6,900 car capacity. Photo Credit: Uljanik