Building And Flagging ARTEFACT
11 October 2018

Something very special will soon be floating out of Nobiskrug. The north German shipyard, famous for groundbreaking superyachts including SAILING YACHT A and ODESSA II, is building a breathtaking yacht designed to push the boundaries of what is possible with glass at sea. The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) Yacht Registry has overseen its construction and will be flagging it.

ARTEFACT, which until recently was simply known as “Project 790,” was named at the 2018 Monaco Yacht Show and has already aroused a good deal of interest. The superyacht will be a striking 80 meter (m) yacht constructed with a very high proportion of glass, bristling with unique environmentally friendly features. It will contain solar panels and a battery storage system, enabling the vessel to operate for a limited time without internal combustion engines; an electric pod propulsion and dynamic positioning system designed to hold the yacht’s position without the need to drop anchor; and its waste water can be used as technical water.

We think the RMI Yacht Registry adds value to the entire project and helps the owner protect and future-proof this investment

Built for an owner who wants to minimize the yacht’s impact on the environment, the DC diesel-electric hybrid-powered ARTEFACT will be ready in 2019.

International Registries, Inc. and its affiliates (IRI), which provide administrative and technical support to the RMI Yacht Registry, have been involved with the innovative project from the outset, working with the yard, the owner’s representative, Captain Aaron T. Clark, and Lloyd’s Register (LR).

A superyacht of this caliber pushes the boundaries of what is possible in design. But how does a yacht registry ensure that a new breed of yacht is both safe and at the same time meets the aspirations of its ambitious owner?

According to Captain Clark, flag State choice was a critical decision made at the very start of the project.

“When we chose the yard, we wanted a partner that would not water down our plans and could build a safe yacht that could travel the world as well as hold its value. We also needed a flag State with an understanding of us and an understanding of yachts. We think the RMI Yacht Registry adds value to the entire project and helps the owner protect and future-proof this investment.”

Captain Aron Clark and Patrick Bachofner

Work on the project has been underway for several years, ever since the owner commissioned Captain Clark to help him manage the entire process of designing and building his dream superyacht. Once complete, Captain Clark will command the vessel as it sails around the world.

After one and a half years of looking at concepts and ideas, the team settled on a design and tank-tested it. A timber and builder paper concept interior, featuring everything from lounges to cabins through to the galley, was built inside a factory for the owner and his family to see with their own eyes how the yacht would actually look. Critically, they were able to get a sense of each room’s proportions. A specification was then prepared for the yards to provide their proposals. From a shortlist of three, Nobiskrug was selected.  Captain Clark advises anyone commissioning a yacht of this class to “build bigger than you think and build for 15 years into the future.”

Glass features

The most striking feature about this yacht is the sheer amount of glass used; 760 square meters (m2) of glass comprising 227 pieces, only up to 94 millimeters (mm) thick but weighing a total of 70 tons, have gone into the vessel. To offset this weight, the vessel’s superstructure is made of glass reinforced plastic (fiberglass). Using a composite superstructure has enabled beautiful curved shapes to be moulded. While the deck to ceiling glass is visually appealing, the challenge is to ensure that the yacht’s superstructure strength is not affected.

The IRI team, in close collaboration with LR, scrutinized the plans carefully to ensure that the material met the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) regulations and was structurally sound.

“When hearing about the amount of glass proposed, it would have been easy to have just said no and not take the time to examine these plans carefully,” says Marc Verburg, Fleet Operations Manager, Yachts, from IRI’s Roosendaal office. “However, this glass is stronger than steel and we worked hard to find a suitable regulatory solution. Lloyd’s Register conducted factory and ultrasound tests and we are happy with the use of glass on this project.”

ARTEFACT is not however a yacht passed with numerous special notices and exemptions. It has met all of the RMI’s standard requirements.

Future-proof

From Captain Clark’s point of view, building a yacht which is future-proof from regulatory change is critical. While ARTEFACT meets the new International Maritime Organization (IMO) Tier III low emissions regulations for yachts, working with the RMI means that he is confident that there will not be unexpected changes in the near future.

Meeting at Nobiskrug

“The product is not actually the yacht, it’s the guest experience,” explains Captain Clark. “We’re offering an elevated level of experience and use design to trigger an emotional reward.”

That’s why flag, yard, Class, and owner need to work closely together to achieve a result that delivers a beautiful, but safe, yacht.  By overseeing the yacht’s construction, Captain Clark is gaining an insight into every detail of the vessel and will eventually be running a yacht built to anticipate the guests’ and crew’s needs.

Patrick Bachofner, Director, Business Development, based in IRI’s Geneva office, believes that the success of the yacht team in this very demanding sector is its decentralized core group.

“We have a small yacht team in Geneva, Roosendaal, and Ft. Lauderdale, backed up by the support of the much wider shipping group of the world’s second largest ship registry. This means that our team has a support network of experts in every imaginable field of shipping. But most importantly, we have an enthusiastic philosophy and are truly interested in what’s happening on our yachts.”

The RMI Yacht Registry’s involvement with the yacht does not end once it is completed. Once operational, the team is available to handle any potential issues with port State control, issue crew documentation, handle mandatory inspections, and provide necessary documents and advice on any regulatory related issue. ARTEFACT will be a privately registered yacht that will be run as a commercial yacht, giving the owner flexibility, should he need it.

Captain Clark says that he found working with the RMI team surprisingly simple.

“Both the Marshall Islands and Lloyd’s Register offered us the continuity of people over the build stage. They have the pedigree of understanding needed to make this ambitious project work. Most importantly, I’ve never had to call the owner and say ‘Sir, your vision has been compromised’ because of something that the flag State has said.”