Dutch superyacht makers see blue skies in post-COVID-19 world

By Robert Wielaard

VLISSINGEN – Damen Shipyards Group has created a yachting division that, it says, will boost its market position once the COVID-19 pandemic is history. Holding the Amels-branded Limited Edition superyachts, Damen’s Yacht Support and SeaXplorer vessels, yacht refit services and full custom yachts, the new unit reflects the giant family-owned shipyards group’s growing success in global yachting.

Rose Damen (Ph. Damen Shipyards Group)

The Damen Yachting Division was in the works before the COVID-19 pandemic brought the global economy to its knees.

“But this new organizational structure puts us in a strong position for (post-COVID-19) success,” says Rose Damen, the unit’s managing director. “I am very excited to be taking on this next chapter in my family’s shipbuilding history.”

Damen and other Dutch builders have in recent months prioritized workplace safety through working remotely or staggered shifts. Or by using heat cameras at entry points, stepping up anti-virus and bacterial cleaning, more online communications and marketing.

The COVID-19 saga has been instructive.

Mark Cavendish (Ph. Heesen Yachts)

“I truly believe that when life returns to ‘normal’, the use of video conferencing systems, virtual tours and remote working will be fully integrated into our working routine,” Heesen Yachts Sales and Marketing Director Mark Cavendish told Ocean Home, a magazine for fancy real estate, superyacht and luxury travel types.

“It will be a brave new world that emerges post-COVID-19, but far from doom and gloom we have a rare opportunity to press the reset button on a global level.”

In recent months, Dutch superyacht yards have reported decent business despite the practical difficulties in yacht building.

The Damen Yachting unit expects to launch at least 6 or 7 yachts this year. It is currently working on more than 20 projects.

Project Altea (Ph. Heesen Yachts)

Heesen Yachts which has built some 200 yachts since its founding in 1978,  is due to deliver at least 2 yachts this year and is finishing its 50m Project Altea, the latest in its 5,000 series aluminum yachts. It is available for delivery in early 2021.

The 50m yacht’s volume is just below 500GT. It has Van Oossanen Naval Architects’ Fast Displacement Hull and room for 12 guests. It’s exterior – a long waterline, floor-to-ceiling windows and a modestly reversed stem – is the work of Frank Laupman of Omega Architects.

Paris Baloumis (Ph. Oceanco)

Rotterdam-based Oceanco – maker of large, highly customized superyachts – used the coronavirus pandemic to step up its pursuit of sustainability. “We embarked on this vision a few years ago and we see that there will be a new normal and we want to stay ahead of the curve,” says Paris Baloumis, the yard’s marketing manager. For example, one issue that has risen on Oceanco’s agenda during the pandemic is health care. “Now an actual theme which we are researching,” he told Ocean Home.