When the Ulysses was launched it was the largest passenger ferry in the world. The ship, owned by Irish Continental Group and operated by Irish Ferries, was built by STX Europe in 2001 in Finland. The ship's name was finalised after a public competition organised by Irish Ferries.
In January-February 2003, the ship was refitted at Southampton, UK. In January 2006, the ship was transferred to Dobson Fleet Management for better and efficient management.
The Ulysses Ro Pax ferry has an overall length of 209.02m (192.4mbp) and a 31.2m breadth (31.84 extreme breadth). The depth to main deck is 9.9m and it has a moulded depth of 15.75m. It has a 6.4m draught.
The Ulysses has a gross tonnage of 50,938gt and a net tonnage of 15,713t. Its displacement is 27,425t, with a maximum deadweight of 10,722t. It operates between Dublin and Holyhead, with a sailing time of just over three hours.
The passenger facilities are distributed over 12 decks, and there is seating available for up to 1,938 passengers. Alternatively, there are 117 twin- or single-cabins, accommodating up to 228 passengers.
Amenities include a pub, various lounges including, Leopold Bloom’s main lounge and the panoramic sky/martello observation lounge on deck 11, as well as restaurants and the Grafton shopping area. Continuing with the Ulysses theme are Nora Barnacle’s food emporium and the Volta twin-screen cinema. There is a gaming area and the quays restaurant.
Freight drivers have a dedicated club lounge and restaurant. Decks 10 and 11 incorporate 121 berths in 83 cabins for officers and crew.
The ro-ro freight stowage is arranged on four decks. External curved ramps are located fore and aft on the port side to allow cars and vans to drive between the upper and top trailer decks. The Ulysses can transport a combination of over 1,340 cars or 240 articulated trucks and trailers. The vehicle capacity is approximately 4, 076 lane metres over four fixed decks and one hoistable deck.
The main trailer deck (3) has 1,402 lane metre stowage space, while the upper trailer deck (5) has 1,341m, the top trailer deck (7) 988m and the lower trailer deck provides 345m of space.
The wheelhouse on Deck 10 incorporates an STN Atlas Marine navigation and ship control system. Facilities include Radarpilot and Multipilot systems and a Chartpilot and Conningpilot station. The Ship Control Centre (SCC) uses an ECDIS (electronic chart display and information system), as well as automatic route planning and radar-based automatic safety systems. There is also a Debeg 4400B DGPS receiver, electromagnetic log, Atlas Dolog and echograph, weatherfax and gyro
The Ulysses has a service speed of 22 knots at 85% maximum continuous rating. The power is provided by four MaK M43 medium-speed diesel engines arranged in pairs. Each nine-cylinder 430mm-bore model delivers 7,800kW at 500rpm, giving a total of 31,200kW.
These engine pairs are linked to a gearbox, which reduces speed to 144.4rpm. This gearbox is in turn connected by shafts to a 5.1m-diameter Lips type 4CI6 CP propeller with four high-skew blades.
Each gearbox also drives two shaft alternators at 1,500rpm. These four 3,100kVA units supply power at sea, however, there are also three 1,520kW gensets based on MaK 8M20 engines running at 1,000rpm. Electricity at 6.6V is generated by Leroy Somer alternators via a Semco Maritime switchboard.
Emergency power supplies are provided by a Sisu Diesel DSJGK genset based on a Cummins V12 KTA38-G3 diesel engine and a Newage Stamford 634 K2 alternator. Manoeuvring is assisted by three bow thrusters and one stern thruster. All are Lips type CT 275 transverse units, rated at 2,400kW with a 2.75m propeller.
Steering is enabled by two Beker FKSR flap rudders, each with a surface area of 16.4m² and operated by Porsgrunn electro hydraulic rotary vane steering gear, giving a 65° angle each side. Anchor and mooring is carried out using a Rauma Brattvaag AC-electric deck gear outfit from Rolls-Royce.
The Ulysses is classified by Lloyds Register notation +100A1, Ice Class 1A, RoRo Cargo and Passenger Ship, +LMC,UMS,NAV I,IBS,SCM,IWS