The prestigious Dutch luxury yacht manufacturer, ICON Yachts, has challenged three yacht design studios to plan the transformation of a real-life survey vessel into a superyacht. The focus of the project is HR MS Blommendal, a 59m vessel constructed by Amels in 1973 for the Dutch Maritime Institution. The ship represents one of a whole series retiring from service and becoming available for conversion – making the challenge a highly practical exercise.
‘We saw a huge potential to be able to cost-efficiently and relatively quickly gain a vessel very much tailored to an owner’s own needs and requirements,’ says Stephan Vitus, head of project development at ICON. ‘The principle layout is a very classic set-up, not that dissimilar to our 60m platform. So it can have four guest cabins on the lower deck, fairly good-sized accommodation and the required saloons and observation lounges.’
While the supply of these vessels has never been more plentiful, they have been successfully converted in the past. Motor yacht Akula, Altair, Wega, Capella C yacht and Intuition II yacht (whose engineering Vitus worked on during her refit by Vosper Thornycroft) all started life as identical or nearidentical to the hull at the centre of the challenge. But ICON’s intention is to spark a variety of fresh conversion concepts that will excite and inspire a range clients.
‘We chose a set of designers we know work in very different directions and present them with the same challenge,’ says Vitus. ‘Ivan Erdevicki came up with a very classic proposal, maintaining most of the classic lines of the existing vessel, still creating a very capable 60m superyacht. Dixon Yacht Design came up with a very contemporary but functional profile and proposal. H2 Yacht Design took it a little further and had everybody in the office do a little proposal, which was a fun way for them to do it. We picked one out of them. It would be more challenging in the realisation than the other vessels, it’s probably the most different, but it still has an explorer touch.’
H2 Yacht Design
While the designers have been envisioning the conversions’ styling and lifestyle requirements, ICON have already given serious thought to the engineering. ‘They are diesel electric, something quite new at the time they were constructed, and we’d probably like to – in agreement with any prospective client – look at LNG or duel fuel for future proof and efficiency propulsion,’ says Vitus.