16 July 2007

Boats of the rich and famous

The latest thing amongst the mega-rich, it seems, is luxurious private submarines. ZUI this article from the Seattle Times:
The ocean floor is the final spending frontier for the world's richest people. Journeying to see what's on the bottom aboard a personal submersible is a wretched excess guaranteed to trump the average mogul's stable of vintage Bugattis or a $38 million round-trip ticket to the international space station aboard a Russian rocket.

Luxury-sub makers and salesmen from the Pacific Ocean to the Persian Gulf say fantasy and secrecy are the foundations of this nautical niche industry built on madcap multibillionaires.


Herve Jaubert, a former French navy commando, swapped his cutlass for a screwdriver in 1995 to build his first luxury submarine. Now chief executive of Exomos, a Dubai-based custom-sub maker, Jaubert takes a more romantic view of the work: "I'm a poet who builds submersible yachts for rich people."

"Spending $80 million for a boat that goes underwater in a market where one that doesn't costs $150 million is a deal," Jones says. "Our Phoenix 1000 is four stories tall, a 65-meter-long blend of a tourist and military sub."

Indeed. According to this*:
The Phoenix 1000 is a 65-meter (213') personal luxury submarine. The initial design was originally executed for a client and now awaits a buyer. As proposed, the submarine would constitute the single largest private undersea vehicle ever built, and arguably, one of the most significant personal transportation devices of the century.

And what does one get? Well, to begin with, this thing (which when surfaced, looks like an ordinary - large, but ordinary - yacht, has an estimated range of 3500 nautical miles, with a cruising speed of 16 knots (top speed, 18 knots). The maximum submerged speed is only ten knots, but the operating depth is 305 metres. Yes, that's 1000 feet.
The main passenger area consists of two decks, each 31 meters (102') long and 6 meters (20') wide. The upper deck is accessed from one of two hatches, either from the deck saloon or from a hatch to the after portion of the superstructure. Two stairways, one in the center of the deck, the other in the after section, lead to the lower deck.

The upper deck is intended to provide space for an engineering workstation, a switch and contactor room, crew cabins and mess, as well as the galley. The forward portion, which ends at a bulkhead, is designed as a room of the owner's choosing.

The main deck is situated such that the forward portion, with eight 1.8 meter (6') diameter acrylic windows, contains the living and dining areas, while the section aft of the beam houses the owner's stateroom and guest cabins. Five viewports, 90 centimeters (35") in diameter, are situated on both port and starboard sides.

For a mere 78 million US dollars, in case you're interested.

But ownership of these private subs, it seems, can lead to some severe problems.

ZUI this article from NineMSN:
Some of the world's richest people are reportedly using their private submarines to indulge in deep-sea sex in front of panoramic marine vistas.

But these aquatic trysts are sometimes interrupted by groups of voyeuristic dolphins, which excitedly tap on windows with their beaks.

One of the world's top designers of luxury subs, US Submarines president Bruce Jones, told Bloomberg that dolphins were a problem for the amorous owners of his multi-million dollar vessels.


* Clicking on "Luxury subs," above the name Phoenix 1000, gets you this description of smaller offerings from the company. The Seattle 1000 actually sounds reasonable - sort of. (No price quoted, but as the man said, if you have to ask, you can't afford it.)

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