Svein Kleven

In his role as Senior Vice President, Solutions, in Kongsberg Maritime’s Integration & Energy division, Svein Kleven has a full appreciation of the company’s extensive range of technology and its continuous drive for innovation. 

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Here, he gives his views on how our experience and approach to designing pioneering ships is already shaping the future of ship design.

What is your background in ship design?

I first came to Ulstein International Trading in 1994. At first, I worked on structures, classification drawings, and later, electrical installations and hydrodynamics. I learnt a lot about the key disciplines of design and construction. I later joined the ship design team, as I wanted to get involved in creation – I always got a buzz from seeing a ship go from an idea to going to sea, and it’s no different today. In 2003, I stepped 
up to become deputy to our Head of Ship Design, Sigmund Borgundvåg, who was a real mentor to me, and a true pioneer of naval architecture. In 2005, when Sigmund changed roles, I took over and led the team until 2011.

How would you describe the boom years of the 2000s?

Demand for ships was high, and as the offshore missions became more complex, this was a big opportunity to offer extensive equipment packages within our designs. We worked with customers to develop pioneering vessels for roles including anchor handling, subsea construction and well intervention. There was also a growing focus on efficiency and emissions, so we started to introduce cleaner technologies, such as batteries and LNG. 

Any pioneering designs that stand out?

A personal highlight was my first design project, to develop a series of cable layers, in response to the global demand for laying fibre optic cables for the web. These were large, complex ships that had to carefully handle the cables and precisely position them on the seabed, while maintaining heading at just two to three knots. Six were built, and this was my breakthrough project as a designer.

What do customers tell you about our ship designs?

When I led ship design projects, I always made a point of going to sea on the first ship of any design series. I would spend time with the Captain and Chief Engineer, but also perhaps the most important feedback was from my discussions with those people working on deck or in the engine room. Capturing that feedback from the frontline is crucial and it’s something we still do today and build this into the continuing cycle of innovation.

The ship design team is part of a global technology company – what does that mean for the future?

We have a fantastic breadth of technology – mechanical, electrical and digital – across the KONGSBERG group, but also the ability to integrate. The technology enablers are there, so it’s already influencing our future designs. Just look at the autonomous solutions [see opposite] we are developing, or the way we’re embracing new fuel and energy sources. These are driving the next decades of ship design, and we are helping our customers navigate the complexities of tighter regulations with help, for example in selecting fuel types or managing and storing energy on board.

Einar Vegsund, Vice President - Ship Design

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