Submarine-carrying motor yacht Thunderbird 2 delivered

5 January 2015By Risa Merl

Designed to tote toys, including a three-person submarine, is the newly launched and delivered motor yacht catamaran Thunderbird 2.

Built by Turkey's BB Yacht in Antalya with design and naval architecture by Brilliant Boats, the 22-metre Thunderbird 2 will be hard to miss with her bright green paint job and submarine at the stern. Fans of Gerry Anderson's sci-fi TV series "Thunderbirds" will appreciate the reference to the wild vehicles used by the show's characters. Much likes the multi-use vehicles on the show, Thunderbird 2 is built for comfortable living on board and to serve as a sports utility vessel, capable of carrying and launching her owner's myriad tenders and toys. The three-person Triton submarine, capable of descending to depths of 1,000-metres-plus, is named Thunderbird 4, of course.

"Clearly, the boss is a monster 'Thurnderbirds' fan," Michael Schutte, founder and principal Naval Architect of Brilliant Boats, tells Boat International. "He actually bought his submarine first then went boat shopping. With the Triton weighing eight tons, finding a vessel capable of launching and recovering such a big lump was a challenge." Schutte says the owner wasn't interested in buying and running an old or large ship to do this, nor was he up for building an explorer yacht to cart his submarine around.

"Our brief was to design a pocket yacht/pickup truck to carry the sub, as well as any other water toys he may wish to move around," says Schutte. "And he wanted to be able to drive it himself, and he wanted it green. It was an enormous design challenge, both technically and aesthetically. We seem to attract the client out there who wants 'something else'. I guess we are good at that – at least repeat offenders, so one of the usual suspects when these jobs come up. This is why I love my job!"

Brilliant Boats took the owner's unusual brief for his first boat and brilliantly created a luxury submarine tender that can comfortably accommodate four guests and, most importantly, accommodate the three-person Triton submarine. With an 11-metre beam, Thunderbird 2 is quite wide for her size, designed so she can accommodate an 8.5-ton capacity hydraulic platform for the launch and recovery of the sub and other toys. She is also outfitted with battery chargers and oxygen storage required to fully support a submarine. "Incorporated are all of the submarine support systems to allow extended periods of unsupported exploration," Schutte says.

Yet her draft comes in at less than 1.1 metres, allowing for cruising in the shallow waters that she will call home. Thunderbird 2 will be based on a private island in Belize and will be used to explore the Caribbean, both above and below the water.

Constructed in aluminium and with an interior in balsa, honeycomb and Forex, she is lightweight, coming in at 54 tons lightship, while her full load displacement is 72 tons including her fuel load (seven tons) and the eight-ton Triton sub.

The interior by Miami, Florida-based designer Karine Rousseau offers an owner's suite and guest stateroom on the lower deck, while the main saloon, day head, office and large galley are found on the main deck. The aft deck is where the action happens on Thunderbird 2 – in addition to the sub-launching activities, this space has dive storage and an air filling station, and a large swim platform allows easy access to the water. Forward is an al fresco dining area, sun pad, barbecue and bar area.

Powered by twin 900hp Yanmar 8SY engines coupled to Hamilton 521 waterjets, she gets up to 22 knots top speed and has a transatlantic range at an economic cruising speed of 10 knots. "With and range of over 1,200 nautical miles and a full load draught of less 1.1 metres, she has unrestricted access to the waters of her Caribbean home, and the ability to travel further afield at will," says Schutte. “'Smart' waterjet propulsion offers unbelievable manoeuvrability from the low speed joystick control, making parking this tennis court-sized vessel child's play, and being under 24 metres, she can be driven by the owner himself."

While built for a private owner, but Thunderbird 2 is compliant for commercial use. Her sistership is already under construction at BB Yacht, available for delivery in less than 12 months. Hull No 2 was designed with a more commercial look and is more expedition-capable with lifting lugs incorporated into the deck. "The idea was to be able to have her deck freighted easily and cheaply anywhere an owner wanted to dive...of course, the vessel could always be faired should anyone want her shiny. The lifting lugs would be a huge benefit to anyone running a chase boat/toy box as she could be shipped deck cargo for the big passages.