SuperYacht Times sat down with Giuseppe Palumbo, founder and CEO of Palumbo Superyachts, to find out more about what is currently in the pipeline at Palumbo SY Refit, their recent refit projects and the future of the refit market.How did you start out in the superyacht industry and what encouraged you to found Palumbo Superyachts?
I was a child when I took my first steps in the shipyard with my grandfather. When I was a teenager, I continued to enjoy my visits there, breathing the air, the smells, looking the workers straight in the eyes and feeling the passion in their work. When I was growing up I wanted to follow in my father's footsteps. I made the passion I experienced from others at the shipyard ‘mine’ and took to the field myself.Today I am in charge of the Palumbo Superyachts division, which includes the Columbus, ISA, EXTRA, Mondomarine and Palumbo SY Refit brands. I have managers with great experience on each of our five production sites in Ancona, Savona, Naples, Malta and Marseille, as well as a representative office in Antibes. Every week I try to visit the shipyards to see the new yachts under construction or refit. I like getting into the technical aspects and I confess that my greatest passion is product development and technological innovation.As a family we have always dealt with refit and maintenance of commercial, cruise and cargo vessels, but in 2008 we decided to invest in yachting by making our first 54-metre superyacht under the Columbus brand. Then we grew by acquisition, first with the ISA Yachts shipyard and then with Mondomarine. The latest addition to Palumbo Superyachts is EXTRA, an innovative brand both in terms of exterior design and volume optimisation. I prefer to let the accomplished results and the facts demonstrate what we are able to achieve both in terms of new constructions and repairs.
From the establishment of Palumbo Superyachts, how has your vision for the company changed?
My long-term view has never changed. I believe it is important to always maintain high construction standards by using quality materials and skilled labour. It is crucial to keep up with new technologies and check their application for the yachting industry. We were pioneers in the field of hybrid propulsion and we continue to invest in the development of new projects and in technical construction equipment.
Palumbo Superyachts consists of several different brands, including Palumbo SY Refit. Could you tell me about the establishment of the refit brand? How does refit and maintenance fit into the vision of the Palumbo group?
Refit and maintenance are our bread and butter. We started with this in the early 1950s as a family. It is an integral part of our daily work and the market acknowledges our dominant position in the Mediterranean, where we have five shipyards with state-of-the-art equipment and specialised workforce. We operate on boats up to 120-metres and we always complete our projects to "turnkey" condition and free of surprises.We carry out a variety of jobs such as the complete repainting of hulls and superstructures, carpentry, interior refit, conversion, installation of hydrojet systems, just to name a few.
Palumbo SY Refit has been busy with its expansion into Central America and the Caribbean, as well as a new office in Antibes. Why have you chosen these locations?
Last fall, with the aim of having an increasingly widespread network and guaranteeing our customers would be reached and provided with the highest level of quality service everywhere, we opened a new Service Point in Central America and Caribbean. From January 2021, we have a new office in Antibes, France, which has been established as our new headquarters. The Côte d'Azur remains a strategic point of passage for most of the boats that will then have to be maintained, therefore it was the ideal place to settle our representative area office.What does Palumbo SY Refit do differently from other repair and refit yards?
No one else has as many shipyards offering such a wide range of services. Our facilities range between 22,000 square-metres to 45,000 square-metres, equipped with covered drydocks, travel lifts up to 820 tons, 3,300 ton ship lifts, painting sheds, moorings, yards for on-the-hard jobs, cranes, with many other features to complete projects of any scale. We have on site Project Managers and designers as well as specialised workshops such as joinery, carpentry, upholstery and warehouses at each yard. All of this makes a considerable difference in providing clients with a comprehensive and personal experience.
Could you tell me more about some of the recent refit projects that have been completed at Palumbo SY Refit such as the 116-metre motor yacht Atlantis II and the 15-year Class Survey on the 73-metre superyacht Titania?
Over the past year and a half we have worked on several important projects. Atlantis IIhas just sailed from Malta to start the season, after receiving routine maintenance as well as restoration and optimisation of her structures. Specifically, some of the process involved the replacement of the 60-metre steel plates on both sides of the superyacht as well as the construction and replacement of a new swimming pool platform. Additionally, our team worked on arranging anchors and cables, lining two anchor pockets, removing the bow thruster and both shaft and propellers, cleaning six ballast tanks, completely renewing the chain locker, replacing the existing exhaust pipe and repairing the air ducts in the FRW area.
During her visit to our Marseille facilities, the 73-metre motor yacht Titania completed her 15-year Class Survey. The project was completed under a strict deadline and our team’s capabilities were proven, completing the laborious task in under two months, in compliance with the strict rules established by Lloyd's.
These are just two examples of superyachts that we’ve recently had in our yard. We also specialise in sailing vessels and we had the opportunity to maintain the sailing yachts Essentia, Woodpecker Cube and Kiwi in Ancona, and sailing yacht Cyrano de Bergeraca in Savona.Obviously we provide specific service to the fleet of the ISA, Columbus, Mondomarine and EXTRA brands. In Savona we worked on motor yachts Tribù and Okto, while motor yacht Armada has been a longtime customer at our Naples facilities.
How do you see refit changing in the coming years, with the industry seeing a trend toward larger vessels and a move toward more ecologically mindful propulsion systems?
The refit market is in good health with high-level competition between a few shipyards that have the right know-how and equipment to guarantee successful works with predictable costs. Having great knowledge of hybrid propulsion allows us to operate on conversions and maintenance on all kinds of vessels. Recent projects have provided us with insight into the latest ‘green’ propulsion systems. We were chosen as the main partner for the installation of a hydrogen propulsion system for the first boat we launched last May at our Marseille shipyard. HYNOVA 40 is the first pleasure boat equipped with REXH2 (Range Extender Hydrogen), a silent and zero-emission hydrogen-electric hybrid technology. Owners are the pioneers of this change and shipyards must be able to operate both on new build and refit, guaranteeing the utmost professionalism and knowledge. For more information about what is currently in the pipeline or to contact someone for more information about the services offered by Palumbo SY Refit, use the contact details below.