Design: Support Ves­sel Butlers for superyachts

Superyacht - - What’s On - By An­drea Man­ci­ni

They call them “sha­dow boa­ts”, “support vessels” or “yacht support”, and we could in so­me sen­se think of them as butlers for superyachts. The­se are boa­ts, or bet­ter ships, gi­ven that they ran­ge from 20 to 90 me­tres in leng­th, de­si­gned to be support vessels to a mo­ther ship, in other words a su­pe­rya­cht. A lit­tle li­ke gho­st-wri­ters in li­te­ra­tu­re, the­se vessels are be­co­ming an in­vi­si­ble yet fun­da­men­tal “ap­pen­dix” that is quie­tly gai­ning ground in the ma­gi­cal world of su­per- and me­ga- ya­ch­ts. In sim­ple terms the­se are boa­ts born to fol­low their mo­ther ship and car­ry things su­ch as lar­ge ten­ders and all tho­se fun ‘toys’ and ‘gad­ge­ts’ that to­day’s superyachts are full of. If in­deed toys on-board we­re on­ce li­mi­ted to a ca­noe and a wind­sur­fer and lit­tle el­se, to­day’s superyachts can­not go wi­thout a cou­ple of wa­ve run­ners, a small sai­ling boat, a speed­boat for wa­ter-skiing, and even a mi­ni-sub­ma­ri­ne and a he­li­cop­ter. Wi­thout coun­ting air com­pres­sors for pum­ping up sli­des, floa­ting docks and wha­te­ver. Over the years this has meant that su­per ya­ch­ts ha­ve nee­ded lar­ger and lar­ger ga­ra­ges, whi­ch ta­ke up a lot, may­be too mu­ch spa­ce. Wi­th a support ves­sel the ow­ner dou­bles the spa­ce avai­la­ble and can ta­ke on ho­li­day eve­ry­thing he wan­ts, in­clu­ding his fa­vou­ri­te car or a he­li­cop­ter. But, de­pen­ding on how it’s fit­ted, a support ves­sel can al­so be used for ho­sting ad­di­tio­nal guests, for exam­ple, or for a pro­fes­sio­nal kit­chen, a Spa, a gym. And al­so to free a yacht of crew not nee­ded on board, if moo­red in a bay for exam­ple. And it can al­so be used as a support ves­sel for ra­cing ya­ch­ts.

From a mo­re technical point of view, support vessels are de­ri­ved from tho­se used for ser­vi­cing off­sho­re oil rigs. They fea­tu­re big en­gi­nes and are ge­ne­ral­ly ve­ry sea­wor­thy, bo­th musts for the sort of ta­sks they’re put to. In ef­fect, support vessels are not ju­st ex­tra spa­ce or a floa­ting ware­hou­se, but can be used for scou­ting dan­ge­rous wa­ters, or for quick trips, and in­deed emer­gen­cies. The­se cha­rac­te­ri­stics mean that bo­th from a technical and a design point of view they look a lot li­ke an ex­pe­di­tion yacht. It’s not by chan­ce that so­me de­si­gners and yards are pro­po­sing ex­plo­rers in a support ves­sel ver­sion. A Support ves­sel’s ul­ti­ma­te pur­po­se is to sim­ply li­fe. Not ju­st be­cau­se it carts toys around, but al­so be­cau­se it can go ahead and get eve­ry­thing rea­dy and in the wa­ter for the ar­ri­val of the mo­ther ship, then to pack eve­ry­thing up when it lea­ves. La­stly, it seems that it’s ad­van­ta­geous al­so from a mo­ney point of view: in ef­fect, con­si­de­ring that a support ves­sel is mu­ch chea­per than a me­ga-yacht, an ex­tra boat will co­st less than op­ting for a big­ger me­ga-yacht. Ma­ny yards ha­ve joi­ned the mar­ket for the­se support vessels, bo­th wi­th pro­jec­ts on pa­per and support vessels that are al­rea­dy ope­ra­tio­nal. Let’s ta­ke a look at so­me, star­ting wi­th the th­ree yards that for the mo­ment are mar­ket lea­ders for the­se so­mewhat spe­cial boa­ts, and that in­deed of­fer va­rious si­zes: the Dut­ch yards Ly­nx Yacht and Da­men, and the Fren­ch yard Pi­riou.

DA­MEN This Dut­ch ship buil­ding co­los­sus, spe­cia­li­sed in vessels wi­th a hi­gh con­tent in terms of tech­no­lo­gy, su­ch as off­sho­re vessels or na­val pa­trol vessels, in­clu­ding su-

pe­rya­ch­ts un­der the Amels brand na­me, has in re­cent years co­me out wi­th a ran­ge of sup­por t vessels, whi­ch it coun­ts on a great deal for the fu­tu­re, bran­ded YS ( Yacht Support), avai­la­ble in si­zes from 43 to 89 me­tres LOA. The­se are born of what are kno­wn as fa­st crew sup­pliers, the hi­gh- speed sup­por t vessels used for trans­por­ting per­son­nel for oil­rigs and su­ch li­ke. And from the­se they ha­ve in­he­ri­ted the “sea axe hull”, the axe bow hull de­si­gned to clea­ve th­rou­gh roof seas at speed, as well as all su­per­struc­tu­re pla­ced right for­ward so as to act as a pro­tec­tion for the deck aft of it. ( fi­gu­res 02, 03 e 04)

PI­RIOU The Fren­ch yard Pi­riou la­st year laun­ched its own ran­ge of sup­por t vessels that in­clu­des th­ree si­zes from 40 to

63 me­tres LOA. Pi­riou is not so well kno­wn in the world of ya­ch­ting as it spe­cia­li­ses in buil­ding wor­king vessels, built to be so­lid and tru­st­wor thy. Ae­sthe­tics and design are thus not prio­ri­ties. Their sup­por t vessels are in­deed ba­sic but at the sa­me ti­me ver y ver­sa­ti­le, but they ha­ve now co­me up wi­th an at­trac­ti­ve 63- me­tre mo­del wi­th an in­no­va­ti­ve design that can be used for a va­rie­ty of pur­po­ses. ( fi­gu­res 05, 06 e 07)

LY­NX YACHT Bran­ding them YXT, acro­nym for “Yacht X Ten­der”, the young Dut­ch yard Ly­nx Ya­ch­ts of­fers a ran­ge of support vessels from 20 to 36 me­tres LOA, all de­si­gned for hu­ge sto­ra­ge ca­pa­ci­ty bo­th on deck and in the holds. The si­lhouet­te of the­se YXTS is ve­ry si­mi­lar to that of a tra­di­tio­nal tug­boat, wi­th a hi­gh bow and su­per­struc­tu­re right for­ward to pro­tect the lar­ge and low aft deck, whi­ch is clo­se to the wa­ter so as to ma­ke it ea­sier to laun­ch the toys the mo­ther ship’s ow­ner wan­ts wi­th him. The smal­le­st, the YXT 20m laun­ched la­st year, has 45m2 of deck spa­ce for toys and as mu­ch as 30 cu­bic me­tres of hold for the “smal­ler” toys. Shif­ting all this gear of cour­se re­qui­res a cra­ne, and this is ano­ther fea­tu­re of the si­lhouet­te of the YXTS. ( fi­gu­res 08a e 08b)

AR­CA­DIA Ar­ca­dia is an Ita­lian yard that has over re­cent years won gro­wing at­ten­tion for the un­mi­sta­kea­ble sty­le of its lar­ge se­mi- pla­ning ya­ch­ts that fea­tu­re in­no­va­ti­ve so­lu­tions in terms of er­go­no­mics and sty­le, su­ch as their uni­que ka­lei­do­sco­pic su­per­struc­tu­res, wi­th their sharp ed­ges and mas­si­ve in­su­la­ted win­dow li­ke pa­nels, wi­th en­ca­sed so­lar ones, that pro­vi­de the hu­ge interior wi­th stacks of light. Pre­sen­ting Sher­pa, la­st year Ar­ca­dia be­ca­me a pro­du­cer of sup­por t vessels wi­th a 58- foo­ter, ju­st un­der 17 me­tres at the ser vi­ce of its

lar­ger mo­ther ship. Even if con­si­de­ra­bly smal­ler than other sup­por t vessels you see around, Sher­pa has all their ty­pi­cal cha­rac­te­ri­stics. In­deed, Sher­pa looks ver y mu­ch li­ke an ex­plo­rer wi­th su­per­struc­tu­re for­ward to al­low for a flu­sh main deck that is a full 41 squa­re me­tres that, de­pen­ding on the ver­sion, can be com­ple­te­ly open or fit­ted wi­th a ve­ran­da and be­co­me a ful­ly fled­ged if small ex­pe­di­tion yacht. Al­so be­low deck Sher­pa has bags of spa­ce thanks to its 5.5 me­tre beam, qui­te con­si­de­ra­ble for its 16.8 me­tres LOA, al­lo­wing for a 13 m2 ga­ra­ge the vo­lu­me of whi­ch is a full 7 cu­bic me­tres. To­ge­ther wi­th the­se cha­rac­te­ri­stics Ar­ca­dia has in­clu­ded the look of all its other ya­ch­ts. The end pro­duct has a plea­sant and in­no­va­ti­ve design, one rea­son for the suc­cess of this small sup­por t ves­sel, whi­ch de­spi­te ha­ving co­me on­to the mar­ket on­ly a year ago, has al­rea­dy sold as ma­ny as 4. ( fi­gu­res 09)

ECHO YA­CH­TS For this par ti­cu­lar sup­por t ves­sel from Au­stra­lia a full 46 me­tres long, the yard has op­ted for a ca­ta­ma­ran hull. It’s cal­led Char­ley and was laun­ched at the end of la­st year by the yard Echo Ya­ch­ts. It was built to be the sup­por t ves­sel for the mo­ther ship still un­der con­struc­tion at the sa­me yard, Whi­te Rab­bit Golf, an 84- me­tre tri­ma­ran. De­si­gned by New Zea­land’s LOMO­cean, Char­ley car­ries ju­st about ever y toy and ac­ces­sor y you can ima­gi­ne, in­clu­ding a tou­ch- and- go he­li­pad and a de­com­pres­sion cham­ber. ( fi­gu­re 10)

CONCLUSIONS The sup­por t vessels we’ve loo­ked at ha­ve al­rea­dy been built or are un­der con­struc­tion. But the­re are ma­ny other yards and de­si­gners that are co­ming up wi­th mo­re ideas for this new ni­che mar­ket for this ty­pe of ves­sel. Among them, along­si­de ‘ pu­re’ sup­por t vessels, ma­ny are mi­xed- use ya­ch­ts that, even if they don’t ha­ve the ex­tre­me cha­rac­te­ri­stics ty­pi­cal of this class of ves­sel, can in any ca­se be con­si­de­red ho­nou­ra­ble com­pro­mi­ses. So­me of the­se ideas can be seen in the pic­tu­res and dia­grams wi­th this ar ti­cle. What mo­re to add? For su­re the­se are ver y spe­ci­fic boa­ts, drea­med up for bil­lio­nai­res that al­rea­dy ha­ve a su­per yacht wor th tens of mil­lions of eu­ro. But the fact that sup­por t vessels ha­ve be­co­me all the ra­ge so quic­kly and con­si­de­ring that the smal­ler ver­sions are built in se­ries or on spe­ci­fi­ca­tion, in other words wi­thout an or­der, is food for thought, even when the­se vessels do not co­me cheap, gi­ven that they star t at over a mil­lion eu­ro, for the small ones too. But the­se are in any ca­se born as “sup­por t” for superyachts that can even be over a 100 me­tres long!


The Fa­st Crew Sup­plier 5009 “Doña Dia­na”, a 51 me­tre hi­gh-speed support ves­sel de­si­gned and built at Da­men over 10 years ago, is ca­pa­ble of 25 kno­ts in the tou­gh wea­ther con­di­tions ty­pi­cal of the Nor­th Sea and works for off­sho­re oil­rigs. Be­low, “Pur­suit”, one of the fir­st support vessels ever built by Da­men, in 2010. On bo­th vessels the in­no­va­ti­ve “sea axe hull” is ve­ry no­ti­cea­ble, the axe bow hull dam­pens the ef­fec­ts of rou­gh seas even at hi­gh speeds, and the su­per­struc­tu­re right for­ward that ac­ts as a pro­tec­tion for the deck be­hind it is al­so clear­ly no­ti­cea­ble The il­lu­stra­tion sho­ws so­me of the ma­ny func­tions that a 55 me­tre support ves­sel, su­ch as the Dut­ch yard Da­men’s YS5009, can pro­vi­de. Wi­th a deck of 225 squa­re me­tres, this support ves­sel is avai­la­ble in va­rious ver­sions su­ch as for scu­ba di­ving or sai­ling re­gat­tas, or al­so wi­th a cer­ti­fied he­li­pad and other needs.

Fa­st & Fu­rious, de­li­ve­red la­st year, is one of the la­te­st YS5009 support vessels built by Da­men, and sho­ws how this ty­pe of ves­sel is gai­ning mo­re and mo­re de­fi­ned fea­tu­res. The Da­men yacht sup­ports (YS) of­fer fle­xi­ble areas that can be tran­sfor­med ac­cor­ding to need, wi­th mo­du­lar sy­stems that can in­crea­se or de­crea­se the co­ve­red part of the deck. The il­lu­stra­tion sho­ws the mo­du­lar han­gar on the YS5009 class.

The support ves­sel fleet by the Fren­ch yard Pi­riou, from 40 to 63 me­tres LOA.

Lon­gi­tu­di­nal sec­tion of the YXT 20 me­tre: wi­th helm sta­tion and crew’s quar­ters all well for­ward, in the su­per­struc­tu­re, whi­ch shields the hu­ge deck aft that is ve­ry low so as to ma­ke laun­ching toys ea­sier.

This 20 me­tre YXT, the acro­nym for “Yacht X Ten­der”, is an en­try-le­vel support ves­sel ma­de by the Dut­ch yard Ly­nx Ya­ch­ts, the big­ge­st in this ran­ge being 36 me­tres. The main fea­tu­re of the­se vessels is the amount of sto­wa­ge spa­ce bo­th abo­ve and be­low deck.

For its 63-me­tre YSV Pi­riou has wor­ked on a new ori­gi­nal and smart design; looks are be­co­ming im­por­tant al­so for support vessels! The ma­jo­ri­ty of support vessels built by Pi­riou are ba­sic but ve­ry ver­sa­ti­le: the il­lu­stra­tion sho­ws a Pi­riou YSV 53.

Fi­gu­re 14 - Van Gee­st Design, to­ge­ther wi­th Ma­ri­mecs, has co­me up wi­th this 62-me­tre support ves­sel de­si­gned for mo­ther ships of 85 to 160 me­tres LOA. This is a pu­re support ves­sel and boasts 300 squa­re me­tres of deck for toys and ten­ders and a va­st amount of spa­ce be­low deck, wi­th a ga­ra­ge lar­ge enou­gh to stow a he­li­cop­ter.

Fi­gu­re 15 - De­ve­lo­ped by the Ita­lian design stu­dio Green Ya­ch­ts, the Nau­cra­tes 85 is a 25-me­tre support ves­sel that can dou­ble as a true and pro­per yacht. This thanks to the pos­si­bi­li­ty of ad­ding and re­mo­ving mo­du­les that hook on­to the main deck and be­co­me ad­di­tio­nal su­per­struc­tu­res. In this way one can ea­si­ly add ca­bins, for tho­se ex­tra guests, or re­mo­ve them when the­re is need for mo­re spa­ce for toys on deck.

Fi­gu­re 13 - Ro­man de­si­gners Zuc­con In­ter­na­tio­nal Pro­ject ha­ve pro­po­sed a design in li­ne wi­th the support ves­sel but that can al­so be used for crui­sing. It sports th­ree dou­ble ca­bins and a lar­ge loun­ge area on the main deck, whil­st the up­per deck is for the ow­ner and has di­rect ac­cess to the he­li­pad.

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