Sail-World.com : Flagship yacht fit for an Admiral, its a secret
Flagship yacht fit for an Admiral, its a secret
The world’s biggest privately owned yacht is being built amid great secrecy. John Arlidge reveals what the owner, said to be Roman Abramovich, can expect for his £200m. The yacht currently enjoyed by the Chelsea owner seems to have been deemed too small for his expanding lifestyle.
In a German shipyard a £200m project shrouded in secrecy and fear is gradually entering its final phase. But when the covers come off in a few months’ time, the grow-grow-grow-your-boat world of competitive yacht-building will have a new superlative to conjure with. Superyachts RIP; it’s anchors aweigh for the gigayacht.
At 550ft long - almost twice the length of a football pitch - and 70½ft wide, weighing 12,000 tons, the M/Y Eclipse will be the largest privately owned yacht ever built. The builder, Blohm + Voss, in Hamburg, is testing the yacht’s 20,000-horsepower turbocharged engines, as well as everything from its walk-in humidor to the escape submarine concealed in the hull, in trials off the German Baltic island of Ruegen. The tests are being conducted at night to avoid spy shots.
The yard refuses to discuss its covert commission. 'Our contract with the owner says we can cannot say anything about this. It’s top secret,' said a spokeswoman who did not even give her name.
The mystery surrounding the yacht has spawned endless speculation, including that the Eclipse is the work of a Paris-based design firm called Atabeyki. The company’s founder, Hermidas Atabeyki, has gone on record saying he has been commissioned to produce a yacht codenamed M-147, which, when finished, will be the 'ultimate toy that you can buy – the most visible show of power and wealth'. Atabeyki denies that the M-147 is the Eclipse under a different name.
Why the great secrecy? The simple answer is that people’s jobs are at stake in a world in which confidentiality is next to godliness. 'The superyachts business is a very small world. One word out of place and you will never work again,' says one IT specialist who has worked on the Eclipse.
Another reason may be the identity of the client, thought to be Roman Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea football club, calculated by The Sunday Times Rich List to be worth £10.8 billion. If it is him, the Eclipse will become the latest addition to his private 'navy'. The Russian already owns the 377ft Pelorus, the 282ft Ecstasea and the 160ft Sussuro. He gave a fifth vessel, the 370ft Le Grand Bleu, to an associate named Eugene Shvidler in 2006.
One thing that is not in doubt is the yacht’s size. 'I was invited to walk around it recently and although much of the technology on board is impressive, it is the sheer scale of the thing that takes your breath away. It is huge,' says one source.
While the exterior sets new records for sleekness and size, the interior will raise the bar for excess. Built over nine levels, the Eclipse will have two helipads and a hangar with space for two £1m Eurocopters. One is garaged beneath the other and each is raised on to the helipads by a hydraulic elevator.
There will be four pleasure craft, a 50ft tender to ferry guests to and from shore, 20 jet skis and the private submarine. The 12-seat, £2m sub, made by the Florida-based US Submarines, exits the hull through the bottom, which would enable the Russian and his 26-year-old model girlfriend, Daria Zhukova, to come and go in complete privacy. The sub can dive to almost 200ft.
The accommodation will feature six guest suites, five VIP suites and a 5,000 sq ft owner’s cabin. All come with two en suite bathrooms and balconies. The owner’s cabin features a grand piano and a private garden area on the foredeck, spanning decks 4 and 5. There is a mini theatre cum cinema, an exhibition space, three dining rooms, an aquarium, a disco, half a dozen hot tubs, a half-indoor, half-outdoor swimming pool, a gym with sauna and steam room, and a mini spa. In addition it has a temperature- and humidity-controlled wine cellar and humidor, two kitchens and staff quarters for up to 100 – to accommodate the 70-strong Royal Navy-trained crew, plus RAF-trained pilots and Abramovich’s SAS-trained security guards. There is even a mini hospital for Abramovich’s private medical team to work in.
The main foyer is located dead centre and separates the owner and his guests from the staff. The yacht’s design also features an innovative full-beam loggia (an open area two levels below the bridge deck) that links the saloon forward with the main dining area aft. In the stern is a circular lounge that has a glass front offering a 270-degree panoramic view.
Other firsts include a computerised stabilisation system. The Eclipse is too big to dock in all but the biggest marinas, so has to anchor in often choppy open water. To prevent it rocking, giant stabilisers – effectively motorised paddles – extend from the vessel’s sides when at anchor. They move in response to the waves to keep the vessel level at all times, ensuring no Pétrus is spilt on the starched linen tablecloths. Onboard computers even monitor and memorise the wave patterns to predict pressures on the hull, so ensuring the stabilisers react before a wave hits the vessel.
The yacht has a huge rechargeable boat battery, which is charged during the day when the vessel is moving. 'It’s to ensure the owner and guests can enjoy complete silence when they are sitting out and dining at night,' says one engineer with knowledge of the project. 'With the battery on, we can turn off all the diesel engines and all the generators for up to five hours, and all you hear is the lapping of the waves.'
Ever since the murder by radiation poisoning of the former KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko in London in November 2006, observers say 41-year-old Abramovich has become obsessed by security, so the yacht will have the latest protection devices. As well as the submarine, there will be a special missile-detection system. Underwater cameras with heat-and-motion sensors will detect intruders. All the glass is bulletproof, the yacht is being fitted with the latest antibugging equipment and there are supposedly even flash sensors installed to warn of paparazzi photographers taking snaps through the windows.
It’s not all pleasure and paranoia. There are green mechanisms to clean, filter and reuse waste water, while filters on the twin diesel engines capture particles from the exhaust gases. And the giant yacht’s hull is covered with a special coating that makes its presence benign to the marine environment.
When the Eclipse is launched towards the end of the year, its expected new owner will have a fleet almost as large as the Irish navy and will have wrested quayside bragging rights from his nearest rival – Sheikh Mohammed, ruler of Dubai, whose £180m Dubai is a mere 470-footer. His combined global crew will total several hundred.
He plans to keep one boat each in the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, South America and the Pacific. Diane Byrne, executive editor of Power & Motoryacht magazine, said: 'He can keep them in different areas and fly from one to the other whenever he feels like it.' At Christmas, he plans to bring them all together in the Caribbean to host 'overspill' guests for a party on the Eclipse. As you do!
by The Sunday Times/timesonline.co.uk
Click on the FB Like link to post this story to your FB wall
2:18 AM Sun 30 Mar 2008 GMT
Click here for printer friendly version
Click here to send us feedback or comments about this story.
Our Advertisers are committed to our sport, please support them!
This site and its contents are © Copyright TetraMedia Pty. Ltd and/or the original author, photographer etc. All Rights Reserved.
Photographs are copyright by law. If you wish to use or buy a photograph you must contact the photographer directly (there is a hyperlink in most cases to their website, or do a Google search.) with your request.
Please do not contact
as we cannot give permission for use of other photographer’s images.
Only if the photographer named on the image is Sail-world.com, Powerboat-world.com, Marinebusiness-world.com or NZBoating-World.com.
Ph: +61 2 8006 1873 fax: +61 2 8076 0459
or complete our
[ Banner Advertising Specification
[Bot Archive ]
Customised news feeds -Marine Industry companies, Clubs and Associations have their own customised version of our news feed on their website.