At 100, Amels thrives in the bosom of Damen Shipyards

VLISSINGEN – In 1946, Kees Amels and his workers (left) posed for a photo on a boat they were building. The history of Dutch yacht building is strewn with fuzzy shots of people like that. People who have left an enduring legacy.

The yard that Amels founded in 1918 marks its centennial this year. It is a milestone that says as much about Kees Amels (he had already built 100 boats when the photo at left was taken) as it does about the company in whose embrace it thrives today as a global superyacht powerhouse.

Damen Shipyards (34 yards,10,000 employees, 6,000+ vessels sold in over 100 countries) acquired Amels in 1991. CEO Kommer Damen applied his standardized ship design concept that worked wonders in commercial boat building to superyacht construction. Amels had been diversifying and delivered its first superyacht in 1982.

Its acquisition “reflected my father’s forward thinking,” says Rose Damen, Commercial Director of Yachting at the shipyard group. “The name Amels was retained, preserving the brand which was synonymous with luxury yacht building.” Damen’s strategy to standardize build processes in superyachts resulted in Amels’ Limited Edition range (right).

“Amels went from producing 1 yacht every 3 years to 3 or 4 yachts a year,” says Rose Damen. Amels Limited Editions are standard hulls with a unique interior design and exterior styling. By 2001, Amels had sold more than 20 and today the series stretches from 55 to 83m. (180 to 272 ft). To date, Amels has delivered 60 large superyachts. In recent years, Amels revived full custom building.

The Amels-Damen linkup is a “unique combination (of) resources, shipbuilding and experience,” says Rose Damen, a 3rd generation Damen. She joined the company in 2014. In Amels’ Centennial year, the link with Damen drives the latter’s ambition to be the global leader in a new category: superyacht explorer and support vessels (left). This summer saw the launch of 55.5m Power Play, the yard’s 6th yacht support vessel.

Damen’s SeaXplorer (right) premiered at Monaco in 2015. Since then, 2 have been sold. SeaXplorers come in 5 lengths – from 55m to 100m (180 to 238ft.).

They are polar-capable superyachts that carry provisions, equipment, extra crew, pilot and expedition guides for 30 to 40 days without a port call. The explorer and support yachts appeal to “a whole new generation of young owners,” says Amels Marketing Director Victor Caminada, drawn to explore areas off the beaten track. His company collaborates with EYOS Expeditions, an experienced provider of yachting trips to remote locales in extreme tropical and polar climates, to finetune the design of its explorer craft.