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The 20 largest yachts built in the USA

4 July 2023 • Written by Dea Jusufi

With nearly 96,000 miles of coast teeming with ports and harbours, the United States has been a proud shipbuilding site for more than 250 years. In an Independence Day special, BOAT takes a look at the largest and finest yachts constructed across the pond...  

Voyager

Builder: Swiftships
Length: 91.4m
Year: 1997

Originally launched by US yard Swiftships in 1997, the 91.4-metre explorer Voyager spent the first two decades of her life as a 63-metre supply ship called Candy Trader, used for commercial works. That all changed in 2016 when she arrived at Dania Cut in Florida to start a three-year conversion into an explorer yacht. When she emerged in 2019, blinking into the East Coast sunshine, Voyager became the largest conversion superyacht ever in the US. She features a bathing platform and helipad, while her five decks host a huge crew of over 70 members.

Aquila

Credit: Rupert Peace

Builder: Derecktor Shipyards
Length: 85.6m
Year: 2010

Launched in time for the 2010 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show from Bridgeport, Connecticut, the 85.6-metre superyacht Aquila (formerly Cakewalk) is a full displacement, oceangoing superyacht with a steel hull and aluminium superstructure. Her refit in 2016 secured her the title of the largest yacht to be refitted in the UK and gave her the added 'wow' factor of a bespoke chandelier from Czech company Preciosa, comprised of more than 850 pieces of hand-blown glass. The chandelier is a staggering 11.2 metres long, cascading through four of Aquila’s five decks.

SS Delphine

Builder: Great Lakes Ew
Length: 78.6m
Year: 1921

This motor yacht was a familiar sight around Detroit and Chicago in the 1920s. Automobile manufacturing mogul Horace Dodge named SS Delphine after his daughter and designed an unusual quadruple steam expansion engine for the vessel, which gave her an impressive top speed of 15 knots. During World War II she served as the flagship of Admiral King, the Commander-in-Chief of the US Fleet. Laid up in 1962, she was bought by the Seafarers International Union for use as a headquarters ship but fell into disrepair in the early 1990s. She was later acquired by a Singapore company which planned to convert her into a mini-cruise liner for Asian waters, but this sale fell through. Happily, she was purchased by a Belgian buyer, Ineke Bruynooghe, and a thorough restoration and conversion brought both the yacht and her original steam engines back to new condition.

Cocoa Bean

Builder: Trinity Yachts
Length: 73.8m
Year: 2013

Built to ABS class in steel and aluminium, Cocoa Bean was launched in 2011 as the largest yacht to hit the water in North America at the time. Owned by the late Ali Ghandour, her name presumably refers to one of the Ghandour Company’s best-selling confectionaries - chocolate. In 2020, she emerged from a three-year refit courtesy of Astilleros de Mallorca with her upper deck brows extended, her mast restyled and a freshly-painted red bootstripe. Twin 2,575hp Caterpillar engines give her a range of 6,000 nautical miles and a top speed of 15.5 knots.

Laurel

Builder: Delta Marine
Length: 73.2m
Year: 2006

Built in the Pacific Northwest, Laurel has a steel hull and composite superstructure and is the fourth-largest yacht to be built in North America since the Great Depression. Her sun deck extends fore and aft of a central observation room, the forward part being a belvedere terrace and the aft offering a gym, spa pool and sunbathing. Tenders are stored on the lower deck and launched through doors to port and starboard. Another highlight is the diving room, which opens to a large bathing platform created by opening the stern door.

Albatross

Builder: Delta Marine
Length: 72.2m
Year: 2016

Launched from Dakota Creek in September 2016, Albatross is the second-largest yacht from this American yard to date and has since only been used as a private vessel. She sports an exterior by Espen Oeino International and a Francois Zuretti interior with a volume of 2,066 GT. Equipped for exploring, she is capable of 7,400 nautical miles and is fitted with a helicopter landing pad and a large 13-metre beam tender garage. On deck, leisure highlights include an al fresco dining area accompanied by a chef station, a BBQ, oven and a raised eight-person Jacuzzi.

DSSV Pressure Drop

Builder: Tacoma Boat Building
Length: 68.3m
Year: 1985

The 68.3-metre DSSV Pressure Drop was described by owner and explorer Victor Vescovo as being "not a yacht, and not luxurious". Used as a support vessel for Vescovo's host of deep submersibles, the yacht was originally delivered in 1985. A full refit in 2015 courtesy of Stabbert Maritime saw DSSV Pressure Drop transformed into what it is today, able to accommodate 47 people – including 19 crew and 12 technical specialists. The yacht also features dry and wet science labs, full ocean-deep sonar and an 11.2-metre Triton 36000/2 submersible.

Global

Builder: Bender
Length: 67.1m
Year: 1982

Described as a "sport utility" vessel by the yard that converted her, Global owes her rugged commercial appearance to her former life as an oil rig support vessel. Formerly known as Allure Shadow, she is half yacht and half toy carrier, offering six double guest cabins with balconies, a saloon, a dining room, a sky lounge with panoramic views opening to a forward observation deck, an eight-metre freshwater swimming pool, a cinema, a games room that also functions as a library and a full gymnasium complete with a spa. Her huge decks can carry, among other toys, a helicopter and its full logistical needs plus a large sport fishing vessel. If all that doesn't impress, Global also has the capacity to host events for 200 people.

Explorer

Builder: Candies Shipbuilders
Length: 67m
Year: 1980

Explorer has lived many lives, starting out as Clipper Cap Haitien and later being converted to a Shadow Marine vessel. In 2011, she had a major hull extension that brought her from 51.8 metres to her current length of 67 metres. The latest refit was undertaken in order to add an additional deck dedicated to the owner’s use, which comprises the owner’s cabin, private lounge, gym and spa. Other refit work included creating a movie theatre and upgrading all the audio-visual and IT systems. Moving the helipad also allowed the creation of a new open sun deck, providing ample entertaining spaces. An elevator was also installed to serve all decks.

Blue Shadow

Builder: Campbell
Length: 66.8m
Year: 1994

Blue Shadow is best known through her previous owner, HRH Prince Khaled bin Sultan of Saudi Arabia. A keen oceanographer, Prince Khaled made the yacht available for scientific purposes worldwide in support of the Living Oceans Foundation. The yacht carries Golden Eye, an amphibious 10-seater Cessna 208 with Wipair floats, as well as many special-purpose tenders, and offers a range of scientific laboratories and accommodation for up to 11 visiting scientists and pilots. Blue Shadow was built in the USA by the now-defunct San Diego builder Campbell Industries to the design of Martin Francis and was refitted in 2006.

Invictus

Builder: Delta Marine
Length: 65.5m
Year: 2013

Previously known as Project Invader, Delta Marine's Invictus is built with an ice-strengthened steel hull and a composite superstructure which was penned by Delta Design. With such a long-distance cruising range of 7,000 nautical miles and features such as a pool on the sundeck, a theatre and a gym, this boat is designed to keep its guests entertained on long-haul voyages. She was officially delivered in Seattle, Washington to a North American client, but the key is her remarkable 1,945GT volume, which leaves ample space for an innovative layout.

Lady M

Builder: Palmer Johnson
Length: 64m
Year: 2013

Lady M is Palmer Johnson's 64-metre flagship and is the largest all-aluminium boat ever built in the United States. Her narrow profile and characterful vertical bow are shared by her much smaller SportYacht sisters, which start at around the 36-metre mark. Outstanding features include a hot tub and large open teak decks that flow into contemporary beachy interiors, courtesy of Italian design house Nuvolari Lenard. Powered by twin diesel MTU engines, Lady M boasts a transatlantic range and top speeds of 28 knots.

SuRi

Builder: Halter
Length: 63.4m
Year: 1978

Formerly known as Fierce Contender, this vintage expedition yacht's greatest claim to fame is a stint on the popular television show Deadliest Catch, where it was used as a crabbing vessel. SuRi has since undergone a series of refits after braving the treacherous seas around Alaska's Aleutian Islands. The most substantial was in 2011 at California-based Bay Ship & Yacht Co., which saw 11 metres added to her mid-body. Benefits of this extension included a larger al fresco dining area, sunning and shade areas. A glass-enclosed guest lounge in the existing lounge was also added, which can either be closed and fully climate-controlled or opened up for the indoor-outdoor effect on balmier nights. Following a 2016 refit, this 1,355GT displacement yacht now features new timeless interior décor by Krilloff & Associates.

Satori

Builder: Delta Marine
Length: 62.8m
Year: 2018

Built at the Seattle shipyard in 2018, this 63-metre superyacht is allegedly owned by US billionaire Jay Alix of Alix Partners. All exterior and interior stylings were completed in-house and Satori has since remained very resolutely out of the public eye. Interior photos and amenities have not been released, with exterior photos revealing a helipad on the sundeck, a spacious swim platform and a lateral-opening tender garage and balcony.

According to BOATPro, Satori seems to be spending July 4 cruising along Savusavu Bay in Fiji.

Mia Elise II

Builder: Trinity Yachts
Length: 60.4m
Year: 2012

With a length of 60.4 metres and a relatively small draft of 2.4 metres, Mia Elise II  is one of the largest yachts still capable of accessing shallow anchorages in the Bahamas and Caribbean. This 916GT yacht was designed by the yard’s in-house team and has a bright, airy interior owed to Patrick Knowles. The full-beam upper deck houses a sky lounge, an office, a VIP cabin and the master suite forward with a private foredeck, meaning that owners can enjoy unimpeded, secluded ocean views. Mia Elise II accommodates a total of 13 guests in a master, a VIP and five double cabins including four on the lower deck. 

Bacarella

Builder: Trinity Yachts
Length: 59.7m
Year: 2009

The first Trinity yacht designed by the Bannenberg and Rowell studio, Bacarella began life at 55 metres and was extended to her current length mid-build. She features four very large guest cabins on her lower deck and a full-beam main deck master with a large his-and-hers en suite forward. Her 1,052GT volume gives Bacarella a vast interior, offset by a dramatic interior palette of unusual materials and pale colours. Notably, Bacarella suffered some damage in 2017 after a helicopter crashed into her off the coast of Bergen, Norway. She was refitted most recently in 2020.

Grand Rusalina

Builder: Trinity Yachts
Length: 59.6m
Year: 2006

Damaged by fire during her construction in 2002 and subsequently rebuilt in Brisbane, Australia, Grand Rusalina (ex-Ulysses) is a solidly-constructed explorer-type yacht capable of traversing the world’s oceans with ease and in the greatest of comfort. She can accommodate 14 guests and now has a range of 6,000 nautical miles, allegedly boasting upwards of 8,000 in her heyday. This self-sufficient superyacht is MCA compliant and able to stow a vast array of equipment, including several tenders, jet skis, an inflatable dock and pool and a helipad.

Pearl

Builder: Palmer Johnson
Length: 59.4m
Year: 1998

Pearl is the largest yacht to emerge from the Wisconsin-based shipyard and has since sailed under multiple owners (and names). She was launched as La Baronessa for a Singaporean owner and was renamed Frequency when acquired by a Turkish businessman with an interest in cell phones. She later became Shubra II and was again renamed, this time becoming Pearl. Naval architecture is by New York-based Sparkman & Stephens, while her styling and interior design are by Italian design house Nuvolari Lenard.

Imagine

Builder: Trinity Yachts
Length: 58.8m
Year: 2016

Launched in 2016, the 58.8-metre Imagine is hull number T062 in the Gulfport-based yard's impressive fleet. The exterior styling for this tri-deck motor yacht was created by long-time collaborator Geoff Van Aller, with both the hull and superstructure built from aluminium to AB classification. Power comes from a pair of 3,386hp Caterpillar engines and her total interior volume is believed to be in excess of 800GT. The yacht also has a bonus cabin that doubles as a massage room – imagine that. 

Hasabi II

Credit: Instagram/@naval_yachting

Builder: C. Welding
Length: 58.3m
Year: 1950

This 58.3-metre motor yacht was built for American shipping and real estate tycoon Daniel K. Ludwig under the name Argo. Designed by John H. Wells, Hasabi II is a hardy vessel, with a maximum range of 5,300 nautical miles and exterior stylings that have been left relatively unchanged across her impressive 73-year tenure. She has not had a major refit since 2006. According to BOATPro, she was last sighted today at the Corfu Town Yacht Harbour in Greece.

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