Kleven, a Norwegian shipyard better known for building seismic ships, Coast Guard vessels, and supply ships has landed a megayacht contract. And quite a contract it is: a 351-foot (107-meter) expedition support yacht, intended for use in challenging seas.
Kleven is a family-owned company dating to 1944, though some of its individual holdings date back nearly a century. The specific shipyard where this megayacht project will be built is Kleven Verft, located in Ulsteinvik. That yard specializes in offshore vessels. The design team behind the massive megayacht is equally unusual: Marin Teknikk, a fellow Norwegian firm founded in 1981 and focused on offshore and fishing vessels.
Richard K. Gjerde, Marin Teknikk’s sales director, explains that the owner initially contacted his company about a year ago, albeit anonymously. The owner had already worked with another designer, whom Gjerde says he cannot identify, to create the styling and general arrangement. Marin Teknikk was asked to contribute to the design, though again, Gjerde is not permitted to reveal specifics. He does say, however, in a statement issued to the media that in general, “The owner fancies the Norwegian proven design.” The owner also reportedly admires the work of Norwegian shipyards, which led to the selection of Kleven. Marin Teknikk and Kleven are familiar to one another, having collaborated on previous projects.
Gjerde says the owner and Marin Teknikk’s team held joint design meetings to ensure the final design would meet with approval. Svein Rune Gjerde, CEO of Marin Teknikk, says, “It has been exciting to be able to utilize the know-how of our employees to interact with the client’s designers to develop a luxury vessel of this type, which is being constructed for a rather different use than the offshore vessels we usually work with on a daily basis.”
Details on the types of seas the owner envisions encountering are not being disclosed, at least at this time, nor are details on where he’ll voyage. And, even though the yacht is being called a “support” vessel, it’s also not entirely clear whether the 351-footer will serve in that capacity for another megayacht, or be used as an expedition yacht in her own right. When we posed all of these questions to Marin Teknikk, the company stated it was not permitted to release any additional information. However, both Marin Teknikk and Kleven have been permitted to reveal that the expedition support yacht will be outfitted with a pool, a helipad, a helicopter hangar, and a 69-foot (21-meter) tender stowed on the bow.
Even with the long experience of both Kleven and Marin Teknikk, the megayacht poses a challenge. Specifically, the 351-foot megayacht will accommodate 60 people, so she needs to comply with the Passenger Yacht Code (PYC). The PYC was created to govern megayachts carrying more than 12 passengers. In brief, PYC bridges traditional yacht-safety regulations and SOLAS, since SOLAS was created for merchant ships. PYC allows a yacht with 13 to 36 passengers to still be considered a yacht and not fall under the requirements of a cruise ship or even a ferry. Given the party-size restriction of 36 passengers, some adaptations have been made for the 351-footer. “This work has been interesting and path-breaking due to fulfillment of all the different rules and new institutions to be involved,” Gjerde says. “From the sales department point of view, we see this as a new interesting reference for MT.”
The megayacht is expected for delivery in December 2014. Yes, you read that right: less than two years from now. If the build time seems quite short for the LOA, it is. But, Kleven employs modular construction practices, in which various sections (modules) of a vessel are constructed simultaneously. It’s a long-standing practice in the building of offshore vessels, among other types of ships, and saves time.
Kleven isn’t the first non-yacht yard to build an expedition/support yacht. Recall that the Amels Sea Axe Fast Yacht Support projects are all built by Amels’ parent company, Damen Shipyards. In addition, back in 1999, Trinity Yachts’ then-parent company, Halter Marine, built the 184-foot expedition yacht Samantha Lin (now Pangaea).