In 2008, James Roy, who created the yacht-design division at BMT Nigel Gee, made his first visit to Oceanco. According to Roy, the yard’s CEO, Marcel Onkenhout, pointed out the window at an empty lot and declared that it would build yachts in excess of 90 meters (295 feet). In fact, the two companies discussed ways they could make yachts in excess of 100 meters (328 feet). They continued to discuss collaborative ways in ensuing years, beyond a project. They’ve come together in a partnership Roy declares “a marriage.” It’s a naval architecture and engineering company, Lateral Naval Architects.
Roy, now managing director of Lateral Naval Architects, says the marriage concept definitely applies. For example, both companies are responsible for making it a success. Also, “you don’t get married for a short-term goal.” And, finally, the commitment goes beyond any project at hand.
Lateral Naval Architects blends Oceanco’s engineering expertise and subcontractor relationships with BMT’s design and engineering know-how. The focus is the large-yacht market, and not exclusively for their joint projects, either. Onkenhout says the studio “will work with the best across the whole of the superyacht industry to apply expert knowledge and deliver exceptional projects.”
With 50 staff, the new firm is next door to BMT in Southampton, England. “Lateral will remain part of the BMT group and benefit from access to the full breadth of BMT’s diverse capability,” Roy explains. Simultaneously, it will reinforce “its own expertise and knowledge through the strategic partnership with Oceanco.”
In fact, Lateral Naval Architects is already in the engineering stages of four superyachts exceeding 328 feet. It’s working on somewhat smaller yachts, too. The first launch to benefit from its input is Oceanco’s Y718, Project Bravo, measuring 358 feet (109 meters). She should be in the water within the next year. The team promises technical innovations, though no specifics are yet available.
Regardless, for context, consider that BMT and Oceanco have already collaborated on four significant superyachts: Equanimity, Aquijo, Jubilee, and Black Pearl. Each is more than a large yacht, too. Equanimity was the first yacht to comply with the Passenger Yacht Code, for instance. Meanwhile, Black Pearl is the world’s largest DynaRig-equipped sailing yacht, further featuring hybrid propulsion.
For a better sense of Lateral Naval Architects’ philosophy, consider the logo. It’s the famed nine-dot puzzle, wherein you connect all dots with just four continuous straight lines. “Solving the puzzle requires some lateral thinking,” Roy explains. “Lateral thinking is solving problems through an indirect and creative approach.”