In Part II of Northrop & Johnson’s Yard Report, we focus on the exceptional yacht builders and shipyards of Northern Europe. Renowned for their heritage, build quality and design prowess, these yards represent some of the world’s best. Northrop & Johnson Sales Broker, Ed Dickinson, toured the following yards in early 2016 and shares his insights.
Based in Rensberg, Northern Germany, Nobiskrug is an arm of a much larger commercial family that boasts exceptional engineering and a solid reputation. The yard is run by an extremely helpful and professional team that has delivered a variety of impressive yachts.
Nobiskrug’s production spans over three yards with impressive dry dock facilities, the largest being 430 meters at the Kiel outfit. The military and industrial roots of their shipyard are evident throughout. Nobiskrug recently signed an 82-meter motor yacht due for delivery in late 2018 and also is working to complete the already famous 147-meter sailing yacht ALPHA.
Additionally, Nobiskrug offers full refit facilities and use of its climate-controlled enclosed shed. During the winter of 2015, it began conducting extensive refit work on two 75-meter-plus Northern European yachts. Nobiskrug has a proven platform to build upon. Thanks to a keen eye for detail and fanatical engineering prowess, there are few yards that can compete with Nobiskrug’s mechanical build quality.
Abeking & Rasmussen
Abeking & Rasmussen is a well-run and impressive yard. These qualities help to strike a positive impression to both brokers and clients upon arrival. Abeking & Rasmussen currently is in process of building three yachts (the largest measuring 98 meters) and refitting two returning Abeking & Rasmussen yachts. The yard differentiates itself from most shipyards thanks to its team of dedicated carpenters; this partnership dates back to Abeking & Rasmussen’s early days when a local coffin maker supported the yard through its first builds.
The 98-meter motor yacht currently under construction has been the subject of significant research in streamlining the hull, which will allow for a huge reduction in fuel consumption, as well as a faster top speed. According to Abeking & Rasmussen, this is a proprietary technical advantage over its competitors. Due to the fact Abeking & Rasmussen limits production to four yachts at any point in time, this allows for a more personal experience and ensures that the finished yacht is built to the highest possible standards. The pricing of yachts from this yard is extremely competitive for Northern European build. It is clear how Abeking & Rasmussen has carved a presence into the upper echelon of the superyacht market.
Lürssen has built some of the world’s most famous yachts in the last few years, including the 180-meter AZZAM delivered in 2013. I went into the visit with extremely high expectations and, after a thorough tour of the yard, was not disappointed. With the largest shipyard facilities compared to its Northern European competitors and a workforce to match, Lürssen currently is expanding to keep up with its order books and client’s demands.
The Lürssen build process is very impressive; it utilizes a great deal of innovative systems to help streamline production. Every individual part of a new build yacht is barcoded, allowing Lürssen to subsequently track each piece and monitor its workers.
When quoting for a build, Lürssen excludes the luxury interior and deck fittings from the price, but estimates those will add between 15 and 20 percent to the final cost. Lürssen currently has approximately 12 projects under construction or going through refits; these yachts range in size from 72 to 156 meters. Lürssen’s new builds average between three and four years for delivery. For a new build, Lürssen currently is quoting delivery in 2020. I was delighted to have the opportunity to view the new DILBAR, which is still at the yard’s docks. The yacht measures 156 meters in length and more than 5000gt — the yacht’s size is put in perspective when you see that the swim platform is almost two meters above the waterline.
Amels & Damen
Owned and backed by the Damen Shipyard conglomerate, Amels has built a very impressive shipyard and book of business. Deeply involved in military and commercial shipbuilding, it has a great deal of experience and expertise across the board. Throughout the past 10 years, Amels has established itself as a major player as it focused singularly on delivering “semi-custom” yachts based on a standard platform of sizes between 52 and 83 meters with a limited number of changeable and add-on options. Due to the production line, Amels can produce and deliver yachts with very little risk to schedule or pricing. At the moment the yard has 10 yachts under construction, the largest is hull number one of the 83-meter series, which is being built for a repeat client.
Damen is a large company that has a very corporate, businesslike approach. In other words, it offers a very solid understanding of and good control over costs and schedule. Damen is building its superyacht support vessels at its facility in Turkey. In addition, Damen currently is in the process of building 48 Coast Guard vessels for the U.S. in partnership with a Louisiana shipyard.
Amels is now expanding its business to include fully custom yachts once again, which was the yard’s primary focus before 2005. Amels realized that after selling nearly 20 of its 52- to 55-meter semi-custom yachts, it was pertinent to ensure these customers had an option if they wanted a larger, bespoke yacht. It will be interesting to see if these compete with the fully custom yachts of Amels’ Northern European rivals.
Oceanco has made its presence known in the Northern European market in the past two decades. Despite its understated recognition, the yard offers an extremely impressive facility. With a history of building 45- to 60-meter yachts, the yard will no longer consider a project below the 80-meter mark (circa 3000gt). Oceanco operates with less than 150 employees and the majority of its work is subcontracted out to close industry partners.
Oceanco also has a very cooperative philosophy with regard to the yacht crew; this allows Oceanco to listen to and incorporate new ideas to improve design, operation, safety and costs. Oceanco is known to approach engineers and captains, but also deckhands and stewardesses in order to gain insight and get feedback, which the yard then amalgamates into future builds.
Oceanco recently has completed a new €80,000,000 covered dry dock, which currently has the new 110-meter PROJECT JUBILEE under construction. Despite the considerable fairing and steel work in progress, it was impressive how organized and spotless the full facilities were. Oceanco’s attention to detail is evident throughout the build, especially when looking at the intricate methods used in construction. Using a barcode system similar to Lürssen’s, Oceanco tracks all parts in storage allowing for greater efficiencies in the build process.
The yard also is in a unique position amongst the Northern European yards as it has an extremely large yacht under construction, including a 90-meter yacht, which is set for delivery in November 2018. As a point of reference, it is speculated this project will be 2,940gt with an asking price of €185,000,000. Oceanco recently completed its first sailing yacht in collaboration with Vitters, and has a 104-meter sailing yacht due for delivery in 2017.
Oceanco emphasizes the importance of spending a great deal of time up front before contracts are signed in order to get the specifications and terms nearly perfect before starting a project; this includes negotiation and pricing the interior. This refreshing philosophy ensures no one has rushed into a signed agreement that has not been fully understood and accepted by all parties. As a result of this process, Oceanco receives very few changes in orders and completely fulfills the client’s needs.