The British Royal family call it an heir and a spare – the firstborn is the future monarch, the next is the reserve to help out when needed. The superyacht equivalent is the support vessel which is a trend that is increasingly gaining traction at the top end of the market. Superyacht support vessels extend the yachting experience, opening up remote destinations while freeing up space on the mother yacht.
Many owners have a second yacht still in the superyacht category shadowing the mother yacht. The trend is for the support vessel to be purpose-designed as such, rather than adapting an existing yacht. A purpose build support yacht offers many advantages:
- Huge free deck space
- Below deck storage
- Workshops, offices and accommodation
- Provisions, spare parts and fuel
As well as freeing up space in the mother yacht, the use of a support vessel allows the exploration of less explored areas where shore support is limited. Privacy is also enhanced. A support vessel provides accommodation for staff, pilots, guides and security personnel. As a result there is less noise and disruption and a deeper iatmosphere of intimacy on the mother yacht.
Security is another factor – additional security staff can be employed on the support vessel which can stay out of sight over the horizon in safe areas or in tandem in more high-risk zones. Support vessels can quickly head off any unwelcome advanced
With more than 15 Yacht Support vessels delivered or in build, Dutch shipbuilder DAMEN is the established leader in this developing sector in cooperation with Dutch luxury yacht builder AMELS. DAMEN has delivered more than 200 Sea Axe vessels to offshore, navy and coast guard clients all over the world.
Their Yacht Support range uses the patented and proven Sea Axe hull form, with 43, 55 and 70-metre length. Their helipads can host an Airbus 160.
Pink Shadow is their first for the superyacht market, supporting the Pink Gin.
Echo Yachts, Lynx Yachts and De Hoop are also active in support vessel market, while other yards are involved in refitting and repurposing commercial vessels.
Here are some of the best
Hodor stores five tenders, the largest of which is a 17-metre chase boat, Jet Skis and quad bikes, as well as a submarine garage, dive equipment with compressors. Add to this a hospital with a decompression chamber, a helipad and two large knuckle boom cranes, that is a lot of yacht support.
Charley (51 metres) serves as the shadow boat for the 84-metre trimaran White Rabbit, as well as an entertainment centre with an observation deck and a piano lounge., while carrying a fleet of up to ten watercraft, five tenders, four Jet Skis and a hovercraft.
The 69.15-metre Game Changer comes from the Damen, with a designed based on their 67.15 metre Sea Axe 6711 range, and offers accommodation for a staff of up to 22 people and a dedicated crew gym. A happy crew is a happy yacht.
New arrival on the superyacht scene is the Dutch yard De Hoop that has added support vessel conversion to their portfolio. The De Hoop fast supply vessel is a development of an existing 55-metre steel hull launched back in 2016 to accommodate a helicopter, submarine, sailboat, sports fishing yacht and much more besides.
6711 carries and launches a wide range of toys, tenders and submarines independently of the mothership. Of particular note is fully stocked dive centre.