Damen Shipyards' 80m support yacht U-81 completes conversion

The 80.1-metre support yacht U-81, one of the largest superyacht support vessels ever constructed, was recently completed at the Albwardy Damen shipyard in Sharjah, UAE. The vessel left the shipyard on 17 May 2022 and arrived in Palma on 2 June 2022.U-81 yacht support vessel at Palma de MallorcaPhoto: James SmithShe did not, however, start her life as a superyacht support vessel. Her construction was started in Vietnam at the Ha Long Shipyard to the Damen Platform Supply Vessel 3300CD design. Both U-81 (hull 552045) and her sistership (hull 550244) – which is now under conversion into the 80.1-metre Humanitarian Vessel at Damen Shipyards – began construction in 2015. While hull 552045 and hull 550244 were launched in 2016, neither were completed and speculation would suggest that the collapse of oil prices between 2014 and 2016, and the subsequent crisis in the offshore oil industry caused the projects to be put on hold. U-81 yacht support vessel at Palma de MallorcaPhoto: James SmithIn 2019, Damen Shipyards then marketed the two vessels in the hope of finding an owner to complete the projects. However all went quiet until the appearance of the vessels in transit on the back of a semi-submersible transport vessel, arriving in Albwardy Damen shipyard in Sharjah. U-81 yacht support vessel at Palma de MallorcaPhoto: James SmithHull 552044 was quickly brought into Class and left under her own power for Damen Shiprepair & Conversion in Amsterdam, where she is currently under conversion. Hull 552045 (U-81) stayed behind and was sold for conversion in early 2022. It seems that Albwardy Damen has done all the work on U-81.  U-81 yacht support vessel at Palma de MallorcaPhoto: James SmithNot many details are known about the conversion, but from the pictures we can see a large helipad has been added. Most of her decks are still pretty empty, so it remains to be seen what kind of tenders and toys her experienced owner will put on her decks.  U-81 yacht support vessel at Palma de MallorcaPhoto: James SmithThe new owner appointed Azure Yacht Design for all recent work completed in relation to the exterior design, naval architecture and basic engineering. Azure worked in close collaboration with the owner's team throughout to ensure that this notably large superyacht support vessel matched a very specific set of support yacht requirements.U-81 yacht support vessel at Palma de MallorcaPhoto: James Smith