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Inside the construction shed: Heesen’s in-build Aluminium 50m Project Orion

26 January 2023 • Written by Laura Nicholls

Orion is one of the most conspicuous and recognisable constellations in the night sky. On earth, Heesen is responsible for another Orion, and her existence is similar: distinctive and bright.

The Dutch shipyard is building the 50-metre Project Orion with a unique style, well-engineered platform and contemporary interior design – all of which will ensure that, just like her namesake constellation, she will be a standout addition to the global fleet.

The exterior design comes from Omega Architects and her Van Oossanen Naval Architects hull is already taking shape. Once completed, the yacht will feature a shallow 2.15-metre draft and a 499 GT interior volume. Just like Home, Amare II and others in the advanced 50-metre FDHF aluminium series, Orion will be extremely fuel efficient and will consume just 98 litres per hour excluding the hotel load. And once the chosen hybrid propulsion system by Heesen is set to hybrid mode, this fuel consumption falls to 45 litres per hour – something which isn’t common in the market for 50-metre yachts displacing 295 tons.

Alongside the abilities of the Fast Displacement Hull Form and the work of Heesen’s engineers, this impressive performance will be achieved with two MTU 12V 2000 M61 (IMO III) engines of just 600kW each. This package can not only deliver the ever-popular luxury of silent cruising, but is more compact than the engines typically fitted on a yacht of this size. “We are constantly researching and innovating,” says Peter van der Zanden, head of Design & Development at Heesen. “We strive to refine our yachts and present the owners with solutions that are at the forefront of technology, to improve efficiency and enhance the on-board experience.” Orion’s hybrid installation will also offer flexible power management for maximum energy efficiency.

To conceal Orion’s high-performing propulsion package, Frank Laupman of Omega Architects penned a striking profile with a near-vertical bow and large floor-to-ceiling windows. This exterior design screams out that this is an ultra-technological yacht that can move as fast as 16.3 knots.

The equally-unique interior design by Cristiano Gatto complements the progressive exterior lines and has made full use of the yacht's large windows and low, open bulwarks. The design brief for Orion was for a comfortable yacht with six cabins and elegant interiors. “The interior style of Project Orion is the result of our research moved by the need for comfort in luxury," said Cristiano Gatto.

To further highlight the levels of luxury on board, the interior, which will be constructed and finished by Heesen Yachts Interiors, will involve more than 37 different materials, including high-gloss woods, woven leather, marbles and custom carpets in a contrast of colours. There are plump soft furnishings atop dark wood floors that meet bright white walls – all of which is illuminated by intelligently-concealed lighting.

As the recently revealed renders show, the overall look is serene, cosy and comfortable and can still be easily adapted by an owner who steps into the project early enough. “We hope that the owners, their family and friends, will be able to feel the passion that moved us while designing this project which is – for me – contemporary in a whole new way,” adds Gatto.

The interior makes the most of Orion’s expertly-calculated volume, and every material and piece of furniture has been engineered to reduce weight and provide easy installation. Any elements designed to conceal onboard equipment have been designed to ensure that maintenance can be easily executed.

Created with the hull number YN 20750, Project Orion is a speculation build with a slated delivery time of February 2025. The fast three-year turnaround of this project is made possible thanks to Heesen’s solid financial position and resulting ability to build on-spec. “The formula for shortened delivery times, top-notch Dutch quality, and saved costs in design and development is highly appreciated by today’s clients and is an integral part of Heesen’s commercial success,” says Friso Visser, the yard’s COO. “The yard has a dominating position in the 50-55m / 500-800 GT sector and unwavering promise to deliver on quality and price,” he adds.

According to BOAT Pro data, there are currently 15 yachts under construction at Heesen built in steel and aluminium and ranging from 50 to 80 metres in length. During 2023, we will see at least four new superyachts launched and added to the Heesen family. These include the full-custom 59-metre Project Skyfall, the full-custom 67-metre Project Sparta by Winch Design, the 55-metre Project Apollo from the restyled Steel Series; and the Smart Custom Project Oslo24.