The Superyacht 6: The 6 Largest Yachts Built in the USA

For many years, yacht owners were led to believe that the only way to commission a super-size superyacht was to sign a contract with a European yard. Nothing of that magnitude or complexity could be built stateside, they were told.

How wrong those words were. Among these six yachts, four were delivered within the past decade. And one is among the oldest yachts in the world.

1. Cakewalk. The largest of all American-built yachts also happens to be the newest, launched in 2010. The 281-foot (85.6-meter), 2,995-gross-ton Cakewalk is the largest yacht by volume to be built on U.S. soil since the 1930s. An American couple who previously owned two European-built megayachts commissioned her from Derecktor Shipyards for two main reasons: First, they believed that they could get a well-engineered yacht stateside; and second, they believed that Derecktor’s commercial construction background matched well with the high level of engineering and sophistication something of this magnitude required. Some quick facts: Her beam is nearly 47 feet (14.3 meters); she rises six decks high, with nearly an entire deck devoted to the owners; all staterooms for the 14 guests are on the main deck; and she carries 97,000 gallons (370,000 liters) of fuel.

2. Delphine. While no longer in business, Great Lakes Engineering Works, near the city of Detroit, delivered this grand old lady, then powered by steam, in 1921. The original owner was Horace Dodge (yes, that Dodge… the head of the same-named automobile company). Measuring 258 feet (78.6 meters), Delphine was the largest yacht in terms of tonnage at the time. A crew of 55 tended to 20 guests. These days, Delphine entertains charter guests in the Med with a decor that looks like it stepped straight out of the past, thanks to a refit that took place from 1998 to 2003. She also is fitted with traditional diesel propulsion, though interesting enough, the owner has explored the option of repowering her with diesel-electric propulsion. He also has her for sale for €38 million ($51.6 million).

3. Laurel. At 240 feet (about 73 meters), Laurel (above) is the largest to date from Delta Marine. Her steel hull marked another first for the yard when she was delivered in 2006. Prior to that, all Deltas featured fiberglass hulls. There’s still fiberglass aboard Laurel, though: Her superstructure is entirely comprised of composite. The American who commissioned her still owns her and keeps a low profile. The yacht is also strictly for private use, not charter.

4. Allure Shadow. Measuring 220 feet (67 meters), Allure Shadow was constructed in 1982 as a commercial vessel but converted for use as a “sport utility yacht,” a.k.a. a support vessel or even an expedition yacht in her own right, by Shadow Marine in 2007. Highlights of her five decks include six staterooms, each with a balcony; a movie theater; a huge helipad (really a helideck); a 28-foot-long pool; and room for pretty much any number of watertoys you plan to tote in a climate-controlled hangar. She’s presently for sale for $29.9 million.

5. Golden Shadow. Another shadow boat, Golden Shadow often accompanies the 265-foot (80-meter) Golden Odyssey. Campbell Shipyard in San Diego built the 219-foot (66.75-meter) yacht in 1995. She totes a seaplane christened Golden Eye as well as numerous monitoring systems for oceanographic explorations. She serves the conservation efforts of her owner, His Royal Highness General Khaled bin Sultan, a member of the royal family of Saudi Arabia.

6. Bacarella. Trinity Yachts’ first project with the design team of Bannenberg & Rowell, launched in 2009, seen above. Measuring 196 feet (59.74 meters), she’s among its largest to date, soon to be outsized by a yacht headed to the Middle East. Elm and limestone are among the materials used throughout the decor. There’s also a map carved from slate adorning a wall.

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