Qatari shipbuilder Nakilat Damen Shipyards Qatar (NDSQ) recently announced that they will build Qatar's first fast luxury yacht at the Erhama Bin Jaber Al Jalahma Shipyard in Ras Laffan. The 71-metre vessel is based on Damen’s 67m Sea-Axe fast yacht support vessel. We visited the shipyard in Qatar last month in search of the story behind this project.
“Since we started in January, we have completed on time and within budget, six service and refit projects at this yard, including a small Riva 85, two Riva 115’s, and also a Mangusta 165, and a 55-metre support vessel. An Oceanco built 80-metre vessel is going to come to the yard as well”, Panos Kotsos, Head of the Yachting Division tells us.
“We are always looking for more yachts in the region to use our facilities. In this part of the world, you lose 6 months out of the year to do work on yachts, because of the weather. It is too hot, too humid. You need to do this inside a temperature controlled environment. We have two temperature controlled sheds, as well as workshops adjacent to sheds. This will help us a lot in attracting new clients”.
Jan-Wim Dekker, the yard’s managing director explains: “We work on commercial ships, navy vessels, and now also yachts. Our plan is to have our commercial production department work on the hull and superstructure, which, when it reaches a certain phase in the built, will then be completed by our yacht department. I expect that eventually, yachting will comprise of up to 30% of what we do”
Asking Panos about the new 71-metre construction project at the yard, he comments: “We are nearly done with the engineering, and construction is expected to start in March. The vessel is based on the same platform used by Damen in Holland for their Sea Axe series, but with some significant changes. We have opted for a different engine room, and we have changed the superstructure. Whereas the Sea Axe is a support vessel, this will be more like an explorer yacht, complete with owner’s accommodation. We are doing one vessel right now, but there are already plans for a second vessel”.
When we ask Panos if they are now not in direct competition with Damen in Holland, he explains it’s simple. “If we have the time and capacity to build a vessel here, we will do it. If not, we discuss with Damen, and we can possibly do it in Holland”.
Plans are already being made, to expand the yard’s product line to superyachts. “The first vessel we are building will already have a superyacht finish. The interior quality will equal that of a superyacht. In our facility, we can construct yachts up to around 170 metres. We will also look at building superyachts on a platform”.
Jan-Wim Dekker says:“Even though we are part of the Damen group of shipyards, our brand will be Nakilat, Damen is only a minority shareholder which you will see on the finished product. We work together with Vripack, H2 Yacht Design, Azure, Pastrovich, big names. We really want our clients to be able to work with any designer they choose. We will build on demand”.
“Our ambition is to build for a worldwide clientele, although I expect that we will first see orders from the local market here in the Gulf region”