In pictures: On board Damen Yacht Support Vessel 6711

Best supporting act

Delivered in 2014, 6711 is an ultra-tough 67.15 metre Damen Sea Axe that serves as a yacht support vessel to the 73.51 metre Nobiskrug superyacht Project 783. Imperial Yachts commissioned the boat and acted as build supervisors and owner’s representative.

Not only does 6711 pack about a dozen tenders and a treasure trove of toys, she’s set up to ensure the seamless operation of both vessels. In the bridge, which resembles a flight control tower because the helicopter operations further aft are controlled from here, is a digital planning touchscreen that connects to all the moveable kit on board.

“We have a tracking system on all our tenders and toys, including the helicopter,” says the captain of 6711. The boat provides spacious accommodation for all the crew needed to work the vessel, who if required can also beef up service on the mothership.

Photo: Guillaume Plisson

The helipad

A lot of superyachts have choppers, but not a lot have one like this. The massive aft helideck of 6711 — with a 14 metre D-Value — can take the biggest commercial helicopters on the market, including the Airbus AH-145, AH-136 or Ecureuil, Agusta Westland AW119 or AW109, Bell 505 or 429. There’s also a refuelling station under the deck with about 5,000 litres of Jet A-1 fuel.

The real benefit of a chopper set-up this substantial is range: “250 miles at about 150 knots, so about two hours,” says the pilot. “We’re instantaneously available at all times of the day for the owner, should he wish to fly here and there and also for medical emergencies. The pilots live on board, as well as the engineer, so we’re five minutes away from taking guests anywhere in the world.”

That frees up 6711 and her mothership to roam more freely than other boats. Rather than sitting in port near the airport for the owner to arrive by car or touch-and-go chopper, then spending a day slogging to the intended destination, the owner can go straight to the boat at an idyllic anchorage.

Photo: Guillaume Plisson

The submarine

With a maximum depth of 1,000 metres, 6711’s three-person Triton 3300/3 is used most often to dive to between 50 and 500 metres — a trip to full depth would take five to six hours. Getting the sub into the water, via a crane, is a 13 person job but underwater she’s autonomous. “You can grab things with the manipulators,” says the dive instructor, who pilots the sub, of its metal arms. “With this one you can manipulate quite large objects; it is quite delicate so you can pick up very small things and there’s a line cutter there. It all runs on hydraulics, so they’re very strong."

Photo: Guillaume Plisson

The workshop

6711 and her mothership have world-roaming ranges, but that means little if you’re forced into port for repairs. “Our general brief is that we can never let the tenders and toys, especially the ones that the owner uses, fall into disrepair — they can never have any downtime,” says the captain. The support vessel, therefore, has a vast engine room workshop where spare parts can be milled, a lift that lowers superyacht tenders and water toys from the deck to the garage below, and a crew that includes experts in every element likely to go wrong.

Photo: Rif Spahni

The dive store

The grand lower deck dive centre is, as the vessel’s captain puts it, “one of the best set-ups outside of a full-on school. Definitely better than any other boat in yachting.” It’s one of the few areas on board that guests from the mothership visit so it has more teak than the rest of the boat. But this space is about action, not aesthetics.

Kit runs from what the full-time dive instructor calls ‘normal’ equipment, such as BCDs and regulators for about 12 divers, to high-tech stuff for open circuit ‘blowing bubbles’ diving for 12 — including cutting edge Poseidon Se7en rebreathers. There’s also a stash of cool extras, such as full-face masks offering communication with each other, the surface and the sub, and underwater scooters that allow divers to zip about beneath the waves.

“We can do technical diving because we have the capability to mix our own gases on board — nitrogen, helium and oxygen — which allows us to have safer dives and to go deeper. The deepest we go is 100 metres,” he adds. There’s even a custom hyperbaric chamber adjacent to the hospital room in case any of the guests get the bends.

Photo: Rif Spahni

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