Carinthia V was ground-breaking; the first major yacht designed by Jon Bannenberg and a breakthrough project for German yard Lürssen. But the triumph was short-lived, with tragedy striking before the owner could even step on board.
Completed in November 1971, the 67.85 metre Lürssen superyacht Carinthia V was the fifth of seven yachts commissioned by Austrian billionaire and department store entrepreneur Helmut Horten, all of which were named after the Austrian state Carinthia.
Horten’s first foray into the world of superyachts was with the third yacht in the series; 24.6m Carinthia III. Little is known about the first two yachts in the series, but it’s thought they were below the 24 metre mark and were mainly used to cruise rivers in Germany.
The 24.6m Carinthia III, however, was designed by André Mauric and built by French yard Chantiers Navals de l’Esterel in 1961. Just three years later Horten, who had a fondness for speed and power, commissioned the 42 metre Carinthia IV, the fastest of all seven with a top speed of 34 knots. The yacht was created by the same yard and designer duo as Carinthia III, but this time Mauric worked in collaboration with a new designer on the scene, Jon Bannenberg.
Horten was evidentially so impressed by Bannenberg’s work that he gave Bannenberg sole responsibility to design the fifth yacht in the series, Carinthia V, which launched in 1971. The project was a breakthrough project for Lürssen, which at the time built mainly warships, and was the first major yacht designer by Jon Bannenberg who would go on to become an iconic influence on superyacht design.
However, the story of Carinthia V was snuffed out in the same year the yacht hit the water. The yacht was underway on its maiden voyage to Greece where it would rendezvous with the owner. In stormy conditions, Carinthia V hit an uncharted rock and quickly sank. Thankfully no one was killed. Dickie Bannenberg, son of designer Jon Bannenberg and one half of the design studio Bannenberg & Rowell was 10 at the time of the incident and remembers being told the story of the sinking. “The captain struggled ashore and had to call the owner to explain what had happened.” Yacht designer Tim Heywood, who joined Bannenberg’s studio as a young designer shortly after the sinking, also remembers hearing the story in the office, with colleagues reporting that it was “the most difficult telephone call the captain had ever made." "He had to ring up and tell the client that his lovely new boat had sunk," says Heywood. "It was a tragedy.”
Not long after the sinking, Jon Bannenberg received a phone call. It was Helmut Horten. “He said let’s just do this again – let’s build another one at Lürssen,” Dickie Bannenberg recalls. It has been questioned why Horten did not attempt to salvage and repair Carinthia V instead of commissioning a brand-new superyacht but Dickie Bannenberg said this would never have been an option. “It was 50 metres down and upside down,” he says. Heywood agrees that “it was too deep to salvage." “It hit the rock, which ripped out the engine room. The boat went down in 10 minutes, fell into a trench and was lost.”
With the prospect of recovering Carinthia V an impossibility, Horten commissioned Bannenberg to design its successor, the 70.68 metre Carinthia VI. Although Horten requested Bannenberg to replicate Carinthia V, Carinthia VI was a “bit finer and a bit tweaked,” Dickie Bannenberg remembers. Carinthia VI (later renamed The One) was launched in 1973 and was such a hit with Horten that he never sold it and owned it until his death in 1987.
The wreck of Carinthia V meanwhile has become a popular Greek diving site. According to the Blue Manta Diving and Aquatic Club, the yacht has formed an artificial reef that provides shelter to fish and other aquatic creatures.