Following on from the first in our four-part series, the Burgess Technical Services team guides us through the fine-tuning of design and construction on a new build project. 

Once the yacht concept has been agreed and the contract signed, the meticulous design work begins. For a totally custom yacht, the full technical design process can typically take up to 12 months from contract signing, which may seem like a long time when you are keen to take delivery of your dream superyacht, but these are key points in the evolution of your project.

Rushing the design stages can result in a project’s overall price increasing, due to costly ‘change orders’ as new developments emerge after the construction has commenced, as well as potential delays in delivery. Worse still, if the design has been fast-tracked and your subsequent requests are unable to be implemented, you could end up with a vessel on which you have had to make concessions.

There will be much iteration in the process of designing a custom yacht to both meet your expectations and provide a safe and practical vessel for her crew to operate. However, the expert team at Burgess Technical Services is on hand to guide you through the maze of choices, and ensure any design element changes are technically verified and will not have a negative impact on the overall experience you have as an owner.

Once the design has been finalised, it is time to get started on the physical construction of the yacht. As the first stage of shipyard work steel will be cut, typically anywhere between 12 and 18 months after the contract is signed.

This is when the experience and knowledge of the Burgess Technical Services team will come into its own, monitoring the day-to-day operations at the yard and representing your interests on a daily basis.

A typical example of a timeline for a 65–70m yacht would cover 35 months from cutting steel to delivery, and be broken down as follows:

At ‘Month 0’, this is the first area of work for the shipyard. It is usually a significant event marking the commencement of the actual yacht construction and it is not unusual for the owner to attend.

Work starts on the superstructure approximately a month after the steel has been cut. The hull and superstructure will be built independently.

Approximately two months after steel was cut, the keel will be laid. This is the first part of the hull that is put in place and all other hull parts will be built around it. Again, it is traditionally a landmark stage of the build project.

Around 10 months after first steel was cut, the hull and superstructure are married. This is when the final profile of the yacht starts to materialise. Insulation, pipework and cable pulling commences throughout the vessel.

Shortly thereafter, expert teams will come in to start the fairing, which creates a perfectly smooth base that the paint will adhere to. Then the meticulous job of painting commences. The slightest uneven surface will show up on a hull in the water, so the paint applicators must be highly skilled.

Installation of the interior is a progressive activity. Following construction of the  substructure, the interior surface panels are installed and the  interior outfitting starts, typically 14 months after steel was cut. The teams will check to ensure the technical systems can be easily accessed without intruding on the aesthetic design.

Just over two years after steel was cut, the equipment manufacturers and contractors will start checking and then testing everything to make sure it functions correctly in situ, including the engines, stabilisers and IT/AV systems.

At around this time, approximately 10 months prior to delivery, the first crew may join the build. Depending on the owner’s preference, a captain and/or chief engineer may have been brought in from the very start of the project, or they could be introduced during the build and ahead of the rest of the crew. They will have the opportunity to learn the yacht’s systems and will be involved in key decisions affecting the operations of the vessel. The remainder of the crew will likely be hired over the last six months of the build.

At launch, the vessel is put in the water for the first time and many more tests are carried out to ensure everything is in perfect working order. This usually happens around 30 months after steel was cut for a 65–70m yacht, and is around four months prior to the expected delivery date.

This is the next test to show that the yacht meets all its contractual obligations and everything has been arranged as per the owner’s requests.

Next step: DELIVERY!


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