When Amels gathered some of the world’s leading yachting journalists in summer 2009 and unveiled its plans to build Sea Axe Fast Yacht Support vessels, there was a distinct buzz in the room. (This demonstration of a conventional bow versus a Sea Axe is also enlightening.) Certainly, one or two other shipyards had converted commercial craft for tandem use with yachts, but this was different. In the inaugural Megayacht News Leadership Series interview, Amels’ director, Rob Luijendijk (left), explains the thought process behind the decision, and sheds light on what makes them different.
MegayachtNews.com: Why did Amels decide to create a yacht support vessel? Why not remain focused strictly on “white” yachts?
Rob Luijendijk: We noticed that there is demand for a good-looking, fast yacht support vessels amongst superyacht owners and crews: in principle, giving them the possibility to have bigger tenders and safer helicopter operations in a cost-effective manner, at the same time freeing up valuable space on the mothership. At the same time, our parent company, Damen Shipyards, had a commercial Sea Axe Fast Crew Supply vessel available, which could be adapted to the superyacht market by giving it a higher exterior and interior finish. Hence the hull and superstructure are faired, decks are laid with Bolidt artificial teak, and the interior is finished to Amels’ crew interior standard. Please note that the Sea Axe vessels are not build by Amels but by Damen. Damen is a family-owned company and by far the largest shipbuilding company in Holland, with 34 shipyards across the world and €1.4 billion turnover / 6,000 employees in 2009. Amels is part of Damen since 1991.
MegayachtNews.com: Amels often requests input from captains and chief engineers of its yachts. When the Sea Axe concept was presented to them, what was the reaction?
Rob Luijendijk: We presented the concept to them 1½ years ago at our annual Amels Conference and went out on a sea trial with a Sea Axe Fast Crew Supplier. Most captains and chief engineers really liked the concept. Most important overall finds:
1. The support vessel must have the option to be faster than the mothership
2. Aesthetics are important; the buyer must have the option to give the support vessel a high level of finish.
MegayachtNews.com: Were there any changes made to the original concept based on input from the captains and chief engineers?
Rob Luijendijk: Yes, we now have the option to give the vessel a higher interior finish and better aesthetic appearance by having the possibility to fair and paint the vessel to a high standard. The accommodation layout has been adapted.
MegayachtNews.com: How many Axe Bow vessels has Damen built to date, and how many Sea Axe designs does Amels have on order?
Rob Luijendijk: Eighteen Sea Axes have been delivered for the patrol and offshore industry, two as Fast Yacht Support Vessels. At the moment we have one 67-meter (220-foot) Sea Axe Fast Yacht Support vessel on order.
MegayachtNews.com: Where do you see the most potential for the Sea Axe: as a primary yacht, or as a tandem vessel?
Rob Luijendijk: At the moment we only build them as tandem vessels.
MegayachtNews.com: Whether an owner has signed a contract for a Sea Axe or simply expressed interest, what seems to be the primary attraction to the design? For example, is it the more rugged look, the bow’s influence on better performance, or a few other things?
Rob Luijendijk: The owners who have ordered Sea Axes all have different motivations. It is a combination of various items: high performance, good looks, price, and fast delivery.