Spanish shipyard Astilleros Armon has shared the first images of the support vessel Nebula exclusively with BOAT International. Kate Lardy takes a look around...
With the delivery of its third yacht support vessel, 68.2 metre Nebula, this past May, Astilleros Armon shows that the third time really is the charm. That’s saying a lot considering that the Spanish shipyard’s first hull, Hodor, is a World Superyacht Award winner. Nebula takes the design and interior finish of the catamaran concept to new heights, while providing a fully enclosed hangar for an Airbus H145 helicopter.
This latter requirement was the biggest challenge for the exterior designer, Kirsten Schwalgien of Kirsten Schwalgien Yacht Design: how to integrate the 14.5- by 12-metre enclosure. “The whole project started off with incorporating this. We developed different versions and then in the end we thought that it actually works best if you keep the box as a box, and don’t try to hide it too much,” says Schwalgien.
It is the largest hangar found on any private vessel and allows the twin-engine rotorcraft to slide in without folding its five blades, ensuring it’s always at the ready. Moreover, the immense helideck provides cover for the tenders on the main deck below, a 12-metre custom catamaran (designed by Schwalgien and built by Compass), two RIBs and four jet skis.
With toy-carrying duties accounted for, Schwalgien turned her attention to the interior, which hosts 12 crew cabins, eight staff cabins and one VIP guest cabin. As designer of both the exterior and interior, she had a holistic view. She continued the two-tone grey “techy” look inside, punctuated by accents of orange using fluorescent Perspex acrylic and materials in which the colour appears naturally, like Corten steel and Jurassic stone with Nerinea fossils. “This is a boat designed for the crew so we could take a younger, much more edgy, a bit quirky approach,” she says.
“The brief was to make sure the crew feels really at home,” continues Schwalgien, who also took care to ensure the shadow vessel crew felt equal to those working on the mothership.
Looking at two notable spaces on board, the sundeck and the upper-deck lounge, one could argue that their facilities eclipse the mothership. Under a mix of sun and shade, the top deck encompasses a lounge with sofas, a yoga area and an al fresco gym with state-of-the-art equipment fitted under the arch. It also acts as an outdoor cinema. “It gives the whole range of things that you would want to do when you want to relax in your free time,” Schwalgien says.
The layout of the upper-deck lounge, which enjoys a forward-facing view from the breakfast bar and bespoke sofa, takes crewmembers' needs into account. It has an acoustically isolated phone booth for one to three people to retreat to for private conversations or to study. There are also two glass-fronted meeting rooms flanking the main lounge, both bright with natural light from the forward windows.Read More/A superyacht for your superyacht? The rise of the support vessel
The hull form and naval architecture were developed by Incat Crowther, its speedy, efficient hull form well proven in commercial service. “Instead of having a steel hull and aluminium superstructure with four engines in order to have 21 knots of speed, we have an all-aluminium catamaran platform, and with two engines we are doing the same speed as our competitor in the monohull platform,” says Juan Ricardo Garcia, commercial director at Armon.
Nebula is the largest shadow vessel produced by Astilleros Armón, with a beam 1.5 metres wider than the previous two hulls to accommodate the essential heli hangar. Furthermore, she was designed with a level of consideration for crew that’s rarely, if ever, seen, even on the largest luxury superyachts.
“What was asked of us had never been done before. But what the client wants is what we give them, and our people and their skills have more than proven what we are capable of,” Garcia says.
Don't miss the full exclusive feature in the December issue of BOAT InternationalRead More/Hodor: Inside the world's largest floating toy box