The launch of Oberon, the first Sea Axe, points toward an exciting future for Fast Yacht Support vessels. A 50-metre vessel purpose-built to provide round-the-clock service and support for a superyacht, Sea Axe 5009 Oberon is capable of travelling comfortably at high speeds in almost any sea state, thanks to the patented design of her Axe Bow.
With a top speed of 28 knots, this is the first vessel in the Fast Yacht Support market to make use of the Axe Bow, and Oberon is already in active service around the Mediterranean. Amels’ managing director Rob Luijendijk explained the appeal of such a vessel for superyacht owners. “Space on board the mother ship is at a premium,” he said. “The Sea Axe has a large capacity and is capable of carrying a helicopter, tenders, toys, fuels, consumables and waste, in addition to staff and relief crew.” *
The Axe Bow is a proprietary design created jointly by Damen and Delft University of Technology under the direction of Dr ir J A (Lex) Keuning, associate professor of the Ship Hydromechanics Department. The theory of combining a deep forefoot with a very narrow entry in the bow pointed towards the possibility of significantly reducing the violent slamming motion of a ship in a rough seaway. The theory was subsequently proven with the successful launch of 18 Axe Bow vessels which Damen has delivered for use in patrol, oil-rig supply, and other offshore duties where consistent speed, easy motion, heavy weather reliability, and good fuel economy are all essential factors. Now with Oberon, Amels has taken the proven Axe Bow concept and applied it to a different market, to meet the demands for reliable support vessels among largeyacht owners.
The 50-metre Sea Axe is equipped with a 30-metre open deck with a total working area of 230 square metres and 250 tonnes of deck-cargo capacity. The deck crane has a maximum lifting capacity of 14 tonnes when extended to 10 metres. Capable of crossing the Atlantic at a cruising speed of 18 knots, the Sea Axe 5009 can be configured according to the client’s needs. For example, the standard configuration provides accommodation for a maximum 12 crew and staff, although it is possible to provide accommodation for additional staff with a customised layout.
Where comfort and aesthetics often play second fiddle to functionality in the world of the support vessel, the Sea Axe range sets new standards, as Luijendijk explains. “We want to produce Fast Yacht Support vessels whose looks match their high performance, and which complement the mother ship rather than looking like the poor relation. This is why we offer the option of fairing and painting the Sea Axe hull to a standard that you would normally associate with a superyacht rather than support ship.
Another option is to finish the deck in Bolidt artificial teak, which is very tough and hard-wearing but looks good too. Equally, we furnish cabins on a Sea Axe to the same standard as a crew interior on an Amels luxury yacht. We asked the market what it wanted from a Fast Yacht Support vessel, and comfort and aesthetics were important requirements.
In addition to the Sea Axe 5009, other models in the Sea Axe range are the smaller 3707 and the larger 6711, all available in customised configurations. To date, 24 Axe Bow vessels have been sold, of which 18 have already been delivered.
Amels manages the sales and marketing for the Sea Axe range. Amels is the exclusive yachtbuilding member of the Dutch Damen Shipyards Group, consisting of more than 34 shipyards and marine-related companies throughout the world. Damen, a family owned company, employs over 6,700 people, delivered 150 vessels in 2009 and has an annual turnover of approximately €1.4 billion.
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