In a yard in the Italian coastal town of Livorno, a yacht has been christened and now joins the yachting world’s most exclusive club: the “giga” class. The FB275 is 108 meters (m), built by renowned Italian luxury yacht builder Benetti, was unveiled to a select audience at a private ceremony in late March 2019. Against a backdrop of crystal blue skies and warm spring sunshine, this spectacular yacht, the epitome of luxury and technical innovation, was a remarkable sight:
“She really is a beautiful looking boat,” commented Captain Ronnie Maclean, owner’s representative, at the unveiling.
Captain Maclean has been involved with the project from its initial concept drawings 10 years ago to today’s reality.
To call this a “beautiful boat” is an understatement. FB275 has a striking, timeless silhouette and a flowing, extended length that tricks the eye. The giga yacht features a swimming pool, a fully equipped gym and sauna, as well as a drop-down balcony that allows passengers to feel as if they are themselves in the water. According to Adrian Chisnell, the lead designer at RWD, the British design firm responsible for the yacht’s exterior design, FB275 is one of RWD’s finest achievements in its 25-year history.
The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) Registry has overseen FB275’s construction and is the choice of flag. International Registries, Inc. and its affiliates (IRI), which provide administrative and technical support to the RMI Registry, have been involved with the innovative project from the outset. The RMI Registry’s yacht team, based out of Geneva, in Switzerland, Fort Lauderdale in the United States, and Roosendaal in the Netherlands, have been working with the yard, owner, as well as the yacht’s classification society Lloyd’s Register (LR), to ensure that the yacht is built and approved to the highest standards of safety.
Built on solid foundations
An experienced Captain, Ronnie Maclean began his seafaring days with Denholms on commercial vessels, before moving onto superyachts in 2004. While he has worked on luxury yachts, the scale of this giga yacht challenge was not lost on him.
“It was an exceptionally ambitious project from the outset. Our job is to make someone’s dream come true, which means finding solutions, not barriers. Using the exceptional technical and operational expertise at Benetti, whose teams brought so much imagination to the project, has meant that we’ve been able to deliver this yacht according to the owner’s specifications and in very good time. Of course, registering and running a yacht of this size with its unique requirements requires a flag State that can support our operational needs. For us, the choice of flag was clear. Marshall Islands Registry personnel have been exceptional throughout the build, and the support and fast response to questions regarding the build requirements has been paramount to delivering the vessel without delay.”
Christian Power, also part of the owner’s team, added:
“The Marshall Islands Registry yacht team was engaged before the contract was even signed. They participated throughout, were always available to answer any questions, and offered practical advice. This helped us to pre-empt issues and delays.
The benefit of having a specialist yacht team within the RMI Registry is that we speak the same yachting language. We felt they took a real interest in the yacht, and like us, were excited by the project.”
A solutions-based registry
Patrick Bachofner, Director of IRI’s Geneva office, commented, “the role of the flag State in this context is to interpret regulations which are set by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), then apply these rules and requirements to the yacht segment; this is translated in the RMI Yacht Code, which is stringent in its requirements, yet unique in that it caters to the particular requirements of superyachts.”
“Many owners are initially attracted to the Marshall Islands Registry because of our allowance of more than 12 guests aboard a private yacht,” added Marc Verburg, Fleet Operations Manager, Yachts out of IRI’s Roosendaal office. “A private yacht is defined as a 12 m plus yacht not carrying passengers for hire, not engaged in trade or commerce, and being used solely for the pleasure or recreational purposes of its owner,” continued Verburg.
It is actually the RMI Registry’s flexible approach to superyachts which has established the Marshall Islands as a credible player in the giga yacht market over the past few years.
“To give an example, in our RMI Yacht Code, the certification of helicopter landing areas does not need to meet the Civil Aviation Authority’s CAP 437 requirements; these requirements are designed for offshore oil rigs, so are simply not suitable for yachts above a certain size,” explained Verburg. “The RMI Yacht Code ensures that the highest standards of safety can be assured in the design, construction, and use of helipads onboard,” he continued. “This also ensures that helipads can be integrated into the design aesthetic, which is important; these vessels are about a lifestyle experience, after all.”
A marriage of power and perfection
FB275 is the largest yacht ever built by Benetti, a shipyard with a long history and a reputation for craftsmanship and commitment to the principles of Italian design. Having constructed more than 350 yachts since 1873, this 108 m giga yacht is a remarkable achievement for the yard. In fact, FB275 is the largest of three giga yachts delivered by Benetti in a period of just 100 days.
Built with the scope to cruise the oceans for thousands of miles without the need to refuel, FB275 has a fuel tank with a capacity of 345,000 liters, enabling it to achieve a range of 6,500 nautical miles at 14 knots. FB275’s 108 m hull has a beam of 14.5 m with a draft of 4.4 m. The superstructure has been built in aluminum, the hull is steel, and the displacement is 3,600 tons.
The yacht’s main propulsion comes from two MTU diesel engines rated at 2880 kW each enabling a maximum speed of around 18.5 knots. The main generator sets are four CAT C18s rated at 465 kW. FB275’s impressive environmental credentials are in part down to an electric Schottel stern SPJ pump jet with 500 kW power which gives outstanding maneuverability as well as enabling the yacht to travel for short distances entirely under electric propulsion.
Facilitating a lifestyle
More than 1,000 square m have been devoted to exterior living spaces, spread across five decks. An observation deck at the very top of the yacht offers breath-taking views and social circular seating. On the bridge deck two L-shaped sun pads are set around a 1.5 m firepit, while the owner’s deck has its own exclusive dining and seating areas. The scale of the yacht is most noticeable on the main deck, where a huge dining table, and separate seating areas look onto a large heated swimming pool.
On the foredeck, two tenders of 14 m each can be stowed. Another customized 10 m tender will be stowed in the yacht’s garage on the lower deck, alongside up to eight maxi jet skis. The yacht is equipped with five cranes and two special hydraulic scissor-type lifts for lifting tenders up to 15 tons.
The RMI Registry’s yacht team works closely with class during the design and development stages of any newbuilding project. In this case, considerations included careful reviews of the materials used. Superyachts use materials including glass and marble that are not used to the same degree on commercial vessels, and so additional assurances that the vessel would be structurally sound were required. Particularly unique features such as the heated swimming pool, also needed to be carefully assessed.
“When it comes to yachts, there is no such thing as standard,” said Verburg, himself a former ship-engineer.
“From concept to delivery, these yachts undergo significant changes and amendments. This is largely because the technologies and materials used change so quickly. As do the requirements and aspirations of the owner. What was considered luxury living just a decade ago is very different today. This is why having a stable team registry team and being able to form close and trusted working relationships between the flag State and the parties involved in the design and construction is essential,” he continued.
“The next stage, now that the vessel has been constructed, is getting our entire crew certified with the Marshall Islands Registry,” noted Captain Maclean.
Forty-two members of crew will serve on the yacht on rotations of 28 people at a time.
Safety is not a luxury
Patrick Bachofner added:
“Ensuring that the crew are fully certified for this type of yacht is critical. While this may well be a dream job for those with a thirst for adventure, crewing a yacht of this size is a serious challenge. The crew have to fit in with the aesthetic of high-end service, while performing a wide range of operational requirements that demand intense training and skill. Certifying a yacht crew can be a complex process so it’s really important that owners work with a flag State that has specialist experience.”
This input from the flag State ensures that all requirements, including the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC, 2006) will be fully subscribed to. The Marshall Islands Registry will continue to support Captain Maclean and crew as they go about their work and travels to manage port State control (PSC) requirements.
“Ultimately, our job is to deliver the dream. Owners don’t want or need to know about the complicated administrative requirements, regulatory hurdles, or operational pressures that we must manage. We need to ensure that every requirement is met, that every issue or problem is anticipated, and that guests enjoy the finest luxury experience,” said Captain Maclean.
“But above all, our crews are employed to keep the vessel and its passengers safe. This means engaging with the authorities, such as PSC and the flag States, as partners in ensuring that we are all kept safe,” commented Captain Maclean.
FB275 was delivered on 26 July 2019.