Attention to detail
-- FROM THE FULL PICTURE MAGAZINE -- Yacht owners and captains demand the latest, most advanced technology for their vessels, with attention to aesthetics. This poses extra challenges to the supplier. Northern Star is a case in point.
What first strikes you onboard the Northern Star is the peaceful atmosphere. Although in the process of commissioning, the crew members seem fully focused on their allocated task. The second thing you notice is the great attention to detail.
Nothing onboard this yacht is left to chance. From the ship's deck to the seating arrangements, everything is carefully planned and tastefully designed. Even on the ship's bridge, all systems are flush mounted into the same panel to match in colour and style. "It is very important to us that our systems are functional, user-friendly and 100 per cent reliable. This requires a lot of careful planning and close co-operation with the shipyard and suppliers," says the captain of Northern Star, Craig Franks.
Powered by two 2000-kilowatt Caterpillar engines, Northern Star has a cruising speed of 15 knots and a top speed of 18 knots. She measures 75.6 metres long and 13.5 metres abeam. In addition to the owner's suite, the vessel contains five spacious cabins, giving a total capacity of 12 guests. Each of the guest cabins has its own en-suite bathroom with individual design and artwork. There is also a luxurious dining area, a sky lounge, a common room, meeting rooms and a beauty parlour with facilities such as a hairdresser and a massage therapist. In order to keep the vessel looking new and clean, shoes are forbidden onboard, even in the engine room.
The crew quarters are also carefully planned. To cater for guests and keep the vessel afloat, Northern Star has a crew of 22, who reside in modern two-berth cabins, with access to a mess hall, a common area and a gym.
"Each crew member is sourced and interviewed by the Captain, and the recruitment process happens by word of mouth. We prefer that the crew stay onboard for a 12 month contract, but this varies. Most of the crew members are young people who are interested in travelling and seeing the world," explains Franks.
When signing up for duty aboard a luxury yacht, you might expect to be somewhere exotic, like the Caribbean. This is the case for the Northern Star for half of the time. Unlike many of its peers, this yacht is equipped to sail in arctic waters. A steel reinforcement in the bow and forward part of the hull enables the Northern Star to cruise safely in ice-strewn waters. Indeed, cruising in the footsteps of Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen through the North-West passage off the coast of Canada is one of the ambitions of the owner of the vessel.
"Since our owner has a special interest in adventure travel, this ship is designed to go to the four corners of the world. It has some special features, such as a large fuel capacity for longrange cruising and extra insulation for extreme climates and cold water," says Franks. In order to get the best suitable systems for voyaging in such harsh conditions, the yacht owner looked at equipment suppliers for the offshore market. Subsequently, Kongsberg Maritime was chosen to deliver systems for navigation, DP and thrusters control. Kongsberg Maritime has supplied an integrated package with multifunctional bridge displays, a stationkeeping joystick system, track-keeping autopilot and a comprehensive bridge manoeuvring system, controlling both of the engines, gearboxes and rudders, together with the aft pump-jet and bow tunnel thrusters. All of this equipment is fit for the operation of large offshore vessels that depend on reliable systems for all conditions and climates.
"The owner of the Northern Star has a good understanding of ships and has been personally involved in the decision-making process. He wanted to use the offshore market as a reference when choosing systems for the Northern Star, and recommended that we look at equipment from Kongsberg Maritime. We did some research in the market and found that Kongsberg Maritime's solutions are way ahead of the competition," says Franks.
Focus on appearance
The Northern Star was built by Lürssen Yachts in Germany and was completed during the autumn of 2009. By the time she left the shipyard, nearly 4 years had passed since the project was initiated. According to sales manager in Kongsberg Maritime, Roger Trinterud, this is not unusual for yachts. "Because of the focus on appearance, it might take several attempts before the results are satisfactory to the owner. This focus on style is very different from what we are used to, so our equipment had to be adjusted compared to a normal offshore or merchant vessel delivery. It had to be tailormade to meet the demands of the client," says Trinterud.
"Take the bridge console as an example; all of the panels are recessed and flush mounted into the aluminium. When panels from other suppliers were not approved by the client, the yard provided one that was tailormade, based on a blind panel from Kongsberg Maritime," adda Trinterud. One particular challenge encountered during installation on such a comparatively small vessel was lack of space, which forced the project team to get creative. "This vessel is a lot smaller than the types of vessels we usually supply. Combined with the emphasis on aesthetics, the lack of space was a challenge. We solved this by placing electronics in panels above the ceiling and redesigning our cabinets," explains Trinterud.
During the past few years, Kongsberg Maritime has delivered systems to approximately 50 percent of the mega-yacht market. Although not the largest contracts in sum, they are of great symbolic value.
"There are not many yachts of this type and size built every year, but about half of them have Kongsberg equipment onboard. Since yacht owners often want the latest equipment, winning these contracts is testimony that we are at the forefront of maritime technology. Yachts often require special features or pose specific challenges, to which the client will sometimes suggest the solutions. This has an educational effect for Kongsberg Maritime, pushing us to see new possibilities and to reach new levels," explained Trinterud.