Diesels & Diamonds
Diesels Worth A Pretty Penny
Diesel engines are excellent choices because of their performance, durability, and efficiency. In the realm of boating, diesels are excellent choices, especially for larger boats, because of their long-distance benefits. The longer a diesel engine is put to use, the stronger the benefits. That’s exactly why the world’s largest personalized boats, better known as yachts, pick diesels for their mode of propulsion. We will cover three of the largest diesel yachts and explore how their diesel engines get the job done.
Eclipse (Callsign: ZCDX4)
Sitting at #3 on the list of the world’s largest yachts, Eclipse is a marvel of engineering from the collaborative work of German shipbuilding firm Blohm+Voss B.V. & Co. KG. This gigantic diesel yacht is mind-blowing on virtually every category measurable. To give a sense of how big this toy is, the length of an average-sized pontoon boat is around 22 feet. Eclipse clocks in around just under 535 feet. Inside this boat, features 24 guest cabins, two swimming pools, multiple hot tubs, and a full-sized disco hall. To manage all the rooms and space, the ship requires a crew of about 70 members. Powering all these accessories and options are four MTU 20V 1163 TB93 diesel engines, producing just under 40,000 horsepower. These engines work extremely hard and are capable of moving the gigantic rig 22 knots, which equals out to a bit over 25 mph.
With all the bells and whistles, this yacht is surely worth a pretty penny. As a result of it’s impressive features, the owner, Roman Abramovich, has made sure to equip the ship with necessary defense add-ons. The yacht has two helipads, an escape pod submersible capable of submerging to 160 feet deep, an onboard missile defense system, an armor-plated exterior shell, all bulletproof glass, and an anti-paparazzi flash device system. All these features eventually lead to the cost of this mega-yacht, which totals somewhere between 600 and 750 million dollars. This price is absolutely mind-boggling, but it’s also important to note that the yacht is legally registered as a charter yacht. However, Abramovich set the charter fee close to $200,000 a day, making the yacht practically unaffordable to charter, therefore ownership stays with Roman. This practice is beneficial for Mr. Abramovich because by legally documenting the yacht as a charter boat, it’s exempt to property taxes. Here’s a YouTube video that gives a high-def tour of the yacht.
As a result of observing this mega-yacht, one may ask how did Roman Abramovich amassed the wealth to buy such a gigantic diesel toy. During the ’90s, the Russian government was looking for ways to boost their economy from the shackles of socialism under the USSR. The government began privatizing various industries to economically benefit from capitalistic competition, which succeeded very well. However, the results of this success went largely to a handful of oligarchs, who collectively control a majority of the nation’s industrial-driven wealth. Roman Abramovich was a businessman from a young age, and started his career as a mechanic and then began trading commodities for Swiss trading company, Runicom. Once the wave of privatization began, Roman began diversifying his skills and opened businesses for commodity trading and services applicable to nearly every sector of the economy ranging from kids doll production to bodyguard recruitment. Abramovich became very skilled with industrial products, however he was arrested in 1992 for theft of government property after collecting about $50,000 worth of diesel fuel from an alternate order agreement. He eventually got out of jail and began establishing joint-stock companies with fellow oligarchs, and progressively increased the levels of horizontal and vertical integration.
As Roman’s joint-stock companies began further and further succeeding, he developed ties with the Russian government and was able to leverage his friendships to advance in corporate circles. He and his partners expanded into metals trading and production, which was the source of most of his wealth. Through various shady acquisition deals and manipulations of currencies, stock prices, and commodity prices, Roman was capable of turning a massive wealth which he eventually reinvested into alternate assets like technology ventures, equity firms, and tangible assets such as his mega-yacht. Roman is a crafty businessman who has an excellent taste in diesel yachts, regardless of his upbringings.
Symphony (Callsign: ZGEP2)
The yacht Symphony is another iconic yacht in the industry, also featuring all the bells and whistles. This yacht is a 333-foot rig built by Feadship Royal Dutch Shipyards. The boat is designed to be able to carry 36 people, and features eight different staterooms. To keep the ship afloat, a crew of 27 people work around the clock, ensuring every aspect of the yacht is prepared for sailing and leaves a good impression among other yacht-owners. The ship itself is well reinforced, and was built with a steel hull and aluminum superstructure. Weighing considerably less than Eclipse, this boat’s engine setup includes four MTU 16V 4000 M73 engines, producing a total just shy of 14,000 horsepower. However, this yacht is “cleaner” than others, as it also features hybrid-propulsion technologies while simultaneously working with multiple generators and a battery bank. By utilizing the more renewable-focused technologies, such a large investment like Symphony, will hold its value much longer.
Symphony is definitely a pretty yacht, especially with its dark hull and contrasting colors of the glass and shell of the yacht. Its engines are marvels too, as they can move the massive boat as fast as 21 knots, and lets it cruise at 10 knots. Some of the neat side features of the yacht include a six-meter glass-bottom swimming pool, an outdoor movie theater, and a jacuzzi on the sundeck. It would only make sense for a flashy diesel rig like this to be owned by someone familiar with visual art and taste, and that’s exactly the case, as this boat is owned by fashion mogul Bernard Arnault.
Symphony is valued around $150,000,000 and is surely worth the hefty price tag. French billionaire Bernard Arnault was able to pick up this toy through his extensive wealth through the fashion industry. Arnault is the chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of luxury apparel companies LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior SE. Bernard was capable of rising to these thrones by beginning his career as a worker and manager for his father’s real-estate development company Ferret-Savinel. His company then acquired luxury goods company Financière Agache, which allowed him to develop his skills in luxury management. As time passed, Arnault began horizontally integrating and buying out competing companies including LVMH Group. These acquirements became larger and larger, some of the more notable ones being Loewe, Marc Jacobs, Sephora, Fendi, and DKNY. By diversifying across cosmetics, jewelry, and other luxury goods, Arnault effectively bottlenecked most luxury purchases. Additionally, with the increase in flashy luxury culture from the rapid growth of the rap music scene, Arnault’s success has only grown, as many of his products become featured in rap music videos, celebrity photo shoots, and other forms of staying in the public eye.
Bernard Arnault’s rise to power and fame was a noble one, with minimal corruption or hostile business practices. He also has won multiple awards for civic honor and merit including the The Woodrow Wilson Award for Global Corporate Citizenship and The Museum of Modern Art’s David Rockefeller Award. His excellent taste is fashion is well shown with his diesel mega-yacht, which surely is a feat of marine engineering.
Azzam (Callsign: A6KZ)
The saying “there’s always a bigger fish” most definitely applies in the scene of yachting. This monstrosity is the world’s largest privately-owned ship, clocking in just shy of 600 feet long. The kings of kings, this yacht is not just a billionaire’s toy, it’s a status symbol. Most ports that feature yachts will show the level of competition taking place, as millionaires and billionaires compete to flex their muscles of wealth. In this case, Azzam most definitely takes the cake. This yacht will shadow any yacht near it and it an excellent metaphor for the liquid and disposable wealth seen in the Middle East. Because Azzam is so big, it often doesn’t park at conventional ports, so its sheer size can be hard to compare.
Below, we’ll add a picture comparing Al Lusail, a Qatari yacht, to other boats in the marina. To get an idea of how big Azzam would be, it would be 190 feet longer than Al Lusail.
Having a boat as big as Azzam is simply impossible without completely capitalizing on an entire industry, as seen with the oil fields in the Middle East. Even the world’s wealthiest investment bankers and hedge fund managers would only dream of owning a boat as big as Azzam. German shipbuilder Lürssen really had a full plate building this monster as it took four years and employed a total of 4,000 engineers, designers, builders, and other workers. Building a boat of such size becomes very profitable for not only the shipbuilder, but also for the government due to taxes levied on the movement of supplies, registration, and licensing. Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of the engines and their fascinating scale.
Azzam is powered by a combination of engines and turbines, which are a necessary crutch especially for a ship of this magnitude. Powering this giant boat are two MTU 20V 8000 M91 diesel engines as well as two General Electric LM2500+G4 gas turbines, producing 93,000 horsepower. These engines and turbines have a combined fuel capacity of about 264,000 gallons which is insane considering most average sized pontoon boats have a fuel capacity of 20 to 30 gallons. These massive engines allow Azzam to move up to 30 knots, or about 34 mph, which is commendably fast for such a large vessel. The yacht itself is not that tall, but rather most of it’s immense size comes from the incredibly long frame. Building such a large yacht in such a short amount of time is quite unheard of, especially with the assembly of the set of engines, but Lürssen pulled it off in excellent time.
The two MTU 20V 8000 M91 diesel engines are absolutely massive and each feature 20 cylinders, a high-pressure pump common rail fuel injection system, coolant-to-raw water plate core heat exchangers, and four water-cooled sequential turbochargers. Each engine weighs about 110,000 pounds and have the following dimensions in feet: 21.8×6.69×11.07, rendering a set of pretty gigantic engines. Engines of this size are more commonly used for offshore patrol vessels (OPVs), frigates, naval destroyers, and landing ships. For the General Electric LM2500+G4 gas turbines, each weighs about 44,000 lbs and have an exhaust gas flow of 183 lb/sec at an average temperature of 1,078°F. The GE modules themselves are quite excellent as their composite carbon structure offers strength and durability and have a sound attenuation of 60%. Nobody wants a straight-piped yacht, as having well-composed engines and turbines is essential to making your oversized toy as comfortable as possible. All jokes aside, Azzam is a marvelous piece of engineering and deserves recognition.
Now that we’ve discussed the yacht’s power generation systems, let’s run through some of the amenities. The boat is large enough to accommodate up to 36 guests and stays afloat with a working crew of 60 people. Because of it’s immense size and options, it’s estimated that the annual fees of owning Azzam come to $60,000,000 per year. Another neat statistic is that the amount of paint used to cover the exterior could’ve completely covered 38,000 cars. Inside Azzam are 50 cabin suites, a full-size spa, a deck jacuzzi, an exercise gym, and many more. One may ask what all this totals up to, and the price is staggering. It’s estimated that the construction of the yacht cost $605,000,000. Who on Earth could afford such an expensive boat? The answer is nobody, except for the owner, also known as the current President of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Khalifa Al Nahyan. Son of the UAE’s founder, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
In the picture above feature some of the most influential figures ever to live concerning evolving the Eastern global economy. Sitting on the left is the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin; pictured in the middle is a portrait of UAE founder, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan; and on the right is the son of Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and owner of Azzam, Sheikh Khalifa Al Nahyan. For ease of identification, we’ll call the two by their differentiable names, Zayed and Khalifa. Sheikh is a honorific term and title used to denote individuals of major importance. Sheikh Khalifa has an approximate net worth of $15 billion and is the chairman of the Supreme Petroleum Council as well as the Ahu Dhabi Investment Authority, which manages $875 billion in assets. Being born into a royal family was the primary source of wealth, but Sheikh Khalifa has also taken part in some individual business ventures.
Over Sheikh Khalifa’s time as President of the UAE, he’s made militaristic movements that defend democracy and fight against terrorism and dangerously volatile nations. As a result of the good reputation, Khalifa has upheld stable relations with the US and its respective leaders throughout the years. While the political history has been pretty smooth, Sheikh Khalifa has had a rockier past with financial ventures and decisions. In the process of building his palace, he’s shaken off warnings of water supply depletion, waste water overflow and infiltration, as well as building and health-related workers’ codes. Additionally, in 2016, Khalifa was mentioned in the offshore-entity exposé, the Panama Papers, about his properties in London worth $1.7 billion through the application of British Virgin Islands-based shell companies set up by Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca & Company. Affording a gigantic diesel yacht can be a challenge, but as we’ve seen, with an equal mix between dedication and mastery, and sometimes a touch of legal balancing acts, it can become possible.
Eclipse: Image by “Arnaud 25” & Wikimedia link: click to access
Eclipse (Rear): Image by “DCwom” & Wikimedia link: click to access
Roman Abramovich: Image by “John Dobson” & Wikimedia link: click to access
Symphony: Image by “Alexander Migl” & Wikimedia link: click to access
Symphony (Front): Image by “102Legobrick” & Wikimedia link: click to access
Symphony (Night): Image by “kees torn” & Flikr link: click to access
Bernard Arnault: Image by “Ecole Polytechnique” & Flikr link: click to access
Azzam: Image by “Javier Virués Ortega” & Wikimedia link: click to access
Azzam in front of Lurssen: Image by “ChrisKarsten” & Wikimedia link: click to access
Azzam (Rear): Image by “AlbaCiC” & Wikimedia link: click to access
Sheikh Khalifa & Vladimir Putin: By “Presidential Press and Information Office” & Link: click to access
Sheikh Kalifa & George Bush: By “Eric Draper, White House photo” & Link: click to access
Panama Papers: By “Unknown Author” & Link: click to access