German shipyards enjoy an excellent reputation among superyacht owners

Ge if it is about mega yachts, then the spearhead of luxury has been reached. The equipment depends primarily on its length or volume. In the smaller formats of 24 meters or more, guests can look forward to a hot tub on the sun deck and some water sports equipment in the rear garage. In the league above, there is often a fitness room on board, and the owner no longer needs to sleep on the lower deck, but can spend the night with the best panorama in the front on the main deck. After all, from a length of around 75 meters, pretty much anything imaginable is possible. Then it’s about spa landscapes, decompression chambers, underwater lounges, tennis courts in the hull, cinemas, music studios and helicopter hangars.

Such goods are built in around 180 shipyards around the world, with each region having its specialties – just like in gastronomy. Sailing yachts are often commissioned in Finland, north-east Germany, Italy and South Africa, the English can build valuable 30-meter formats very decently, and stylish 50 meters are good for in the Italian yacht building Mecca Viareggio.

But if the super-rich of this world have a really complex and voluminous superyacht on their wish lists, i.e. one with a length of more than 100 meters, then this clientele cannot ignore the German and Dutch shipyards. Of the 20 or more projects that are currently under construction, at least 15 – the industry is careful with precise order numbers – in shipyards in these two countries. The industry leader Lürssen alone is said to have seven yachts of this size in various stages of equipment, while neighboring Abeking & Rasmussen has one, and the Lloyd shipyard is about to deliver the 140-meter-long “Solaris”. Customer names are not discussed. However, it is not a secret that Russian oligarchs, American tech entrepreneurs or Arab ruling families like to order from Germany.


German shipyard work: The 142 meter long “Nord”, delivered this year.
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Image: Tom van Oossanen/Lürssen

In any case, Lürssen caused a stir when the Bremen-based company pulled the 290-meter-long and thus largest floating dock in Europe from Hamburg to Bremen with the help of several tugs. Behind the cladding was presumably the 146-meter new “Opera” building, which is to serve as a replacement for the 145-meter-long “Sassi”. “Sassi” fell victim to a shipyard fire in 2018 after it caught fire in the dock and was then dragged as a total loss to Hamburg, where Lürssen runs his repair business after buying Blohm + Voss. The damage is considered the largest insured event in the luxury yacht segment and is estimated at at least 500 million euros. “Opera” is to be handed over to the owner, who remained loyal to the shipyard after the fire, in 2023.

Lürssen has just announced that it will deliver the first mega-yacht with a fuel cell. Lürssen has been dedicated to the subject of hydrogen since 2009 and is participating in the Pa-X-ell research project. Freudenberg Sealing Technologies from Weinheim supplies the fuel cell in which hydrogen reacts with oxygen from the air. The result: water, heat and an electrical output of up to 120 kilowatts. Since hydrogen is obtained from methanol, Lürssen expects a good supply situation. It is available in many ports because the chemical industry produces it as a by-product. The benefit for the owner should be 15 emission-free nights at anchor or a range of 1000 nautical miles without emissions.

On the way from Hamburg to Lürssen in Bremen.


On the way from Hamburg to Lürssen in Bremen.
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Image: Imago

While Lürssen and Abeking & Rasmussen, the two neighbors on the Weser near Vegesack, can’t complain about demand, things aren’t looking so rosy further north. Although the Lloyd shipyard is currently in the final stages of delivery of the largest explorer in the world, the traditional address from Bremerhaven is for sale. “Solaris”, 140 meters long, will possibly be the last yacht to be built in the docks. Lloyd belongs to MV Werften and thus to the Asian Genting Group. Because the cruise business practically came to a standstill as a result of the pandemic, the shipyard group, which specializes in cruise ships, got into trouble. It is rumored that there should be talks with a buyer. The Heinrich Rönner Group, also based in Bremerhaven, is considered a promising candidate.

The no less well-known Nobiskrug shipyard is also looking for investors. Due to previous management decisions, a critical order situation in yacht construction and the corona crisis, the company announced that it had to file for bankruptcy in April. Three orders between 62 and 78 meters and other yachts in the project phase do not seem to have been enough to turn the tide. Two years ago, the assessment was that the company was in trouble, said Bernd Buchholz (FDP), Schleswig-Holstein’s Minister of Economic Affairs. The parent company Privinvest had invested almost 180 million euros in Rendsburg in recent years in order to secure ongoing business without receiving a return.

The commissioned insolvency administrator Hendrik Gridmann from the Hamburg law firm Reimer says: “My goal is to find an investor by the end of June who will continue Nobiskrug in order to continue building ships in Rendsburg with the existing workforce.” The consultancy PriceWaterhouseCoopers is doing the research entrusted, who would like to nominate a group of possible buyers. Gridmann: “According to market information, some shipbuilding companies are very interested in eliminating capacity bottlenecks through an acquisition.”

Will there be another huge project like the 143-meter sailing yacht “A” with the Nobiskrug logo? One can be curious. According to the coast, the complex format was not exactly a cash cow.

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