Uljanik is a shipyard in Pula, Croatia, founded in 1856, in the carefully selected bay of Pula as a shipyard of the Austro-Hungarian navy. At the time it was the most modern shipyard in the world. The foundation stone was laid on 9 December, so that date is celebrated as the anniversary of the shipyard, among the oldest continuously operating shipyards in the world. Almost two years after laying the foundation stone – on 5 October 1858, the first ship – SMS Kaiser, with a deadweight of 5,194 tonnes, was launched. The construction of 55 ships of various types for the Austro-Hungarian fleet having a total of 53,588 metric tons deadweight (DWT) followed.
In the long period of continuous work, the shipyard passed through various development periods. During the Italian rule it was engaged in repairs, docking and cutting of old ships. After the fall of Italy during World War II it became a German naval base. From 1947 it was being renovated under the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. It continued with the docking, reconstructions and repair of ships, with the first new vessel delivered in 1951. It developed engineering, electrical production and other operations.
In the 1990s, with Croatia, it became a joint-stock company (Uljanik d.d.) and continued with the shipbuilding production of different and special ships, and in the second half of 1998, it entered the period of great technological renovation. Currently it is a leading shipyard in the construction of multipurpose RORO (roll-on roll-off car and truck carriers) multipurpose ferries, car-truck carriers and oil, natural gas, propane and chemical carriers. It is the most active of Croatia’s 5 world class shipyards and ranked 49th in the world.
In the period from 1947 to the end of 1998, Uljanik delivered 194 newbuilds, totaling more than 6 million DWT, to buyers from all continents.
With the novel VLCC vessel design, Uljanik developed the technology of building a hull in two parts and then joining them afloat. In the period from 1972 to 1976, 11 ships were built using this method, the biggest among them being the Tarfala of 275,000 DWT for the Stockholm based company Gränges AB, and Kanchenjunga of 277,120 DWT delivered to the Shipping Corporation of India in 1975.
Two of the most notorious ships built at Uljanik are the MS Berge Vanga and MS Berge Istra. Both were combination oil and iron ore transports of 227,912 DWT and 227,550 DWT, respectively. Both ships were lost, in the South Atlantic and Pacific, respectively, to unknown causes in the late 1970’s while transporting iron ore from Brazil to Japan. It is believed that the ships suffered ore explosions in their cargo holds due to oil residue. Only two Spanish crew members survived the MS Berge Istra sinking off Mindanao. There were no survivors of the MS Berge Vanga sinking. Missing crew members included Croats from the towns surrounding Uljanik and the city of Pula.
Uljanik is named after the small islet on which it was built. The islet used to be covered with olive trees, harvested to make olive oil, “ulje” in Croatian.
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