What are the key considerations when purchasing a submersible?
For many superyacht owners, having a submersible onboard the mothership marks the pinnacle of their superyacht experience. As the conception of luxury has evolved over time, its focus has shifted from ego and consumption to a desire for exclusive luxury experiences and it is fair to say that experiences don’t get much more exclusive than exploring areas of the planet that no one has ever seen. That being said, there are some practical considerations to contemplate from the beginning of any submersible project.
“When considering purchasing a submersible it is important to incorporate any plans to do so as early as possible into a build project or brokerage deal in order to ensure that their weight and size are compatible with the vessel in question,” starts Charles Kohnen, president of SEAmagine, the US-based submersible specialist. “Weight is always the key issue for submersibles, that is why it is always best to include them early on in the design process. It is not so much of an issue when drawing the initial concept lines, but at the point at which the engineering work starts being done and the project becomes a reality then the submersible should be included. Indeed, even if a client thinks they might like a submersible on board one day, it still pays to factor this into the design and build to mitigate the need for significant changes at a later date.”
When people think about superyacht projects, especially large ones, it may seem that the possibilities on board are endless. The truth, however, is rather different. No matter the size of the project, typically there is always an element of compromise to be found on board because the available space is not limitless and regulations must be adhered to. To think then that owning and operating a submersible is as simple as merely having the financial wherewithal to buy one and the physical space to house it is an oversimplification.
“If there is an appetite from the owner to own and operate a submersible, to share in the adventure, then the first consideration should always be to determine what type of submersible is required to satisfy their vision,” continues Kohnen. “When determining what type of submersible to purchase, the two most important criteria are how many occupants do you ideally want within the submersible and how deep do you want to go? These first two seemingly simple choices will determine the footprint of the vessel and, more importantly, the weight and space that the naval architect will have to work with.”
It is fair to say that the determination to purchase a submersible assumes a desire, either on the part of the owner or their family and friends, to dive deep beneath the surface of the ocean. However, beyond 200m the environment completely changes when light is no longer able to penetrate beneath those depths.
“There is no real benefit to making a toy that goes to around 100m, I usually recommend that clients commission a submersible that can at least go past the light reach,” says Kohnen. “Once past 200m you are going into an environment with no light and, as a result, there is a completely different ecosystem and it genuinely feels like you are entering a new world. For me, the submersible experience is about adventure and experiencing new things. That being said, clients often say ‘let’s go to 1000m then’, but I wouldn’t be so cavalier because you need to add weight and complexity the deeper you go. For superyacht clients, I recommend around 500m.”
All of SEAmagine’s submersibles are highly customisable to suit the various requirements of owners and guests.
The Aurora 3C is a three-person model and is the most compact version of the SEAmagine’s Aurora family of products. While its height and weight have been optimised for life on board superyachts, at 1.88m and 3800kg respectively, the Aurora 3C has an incredibly spacious interior for a vessel of its size.
“With the Aurora 3C you have a product that is under four tonnes of weight, which for a three-person submersible is incredibly light,” explains Kohnen. “Importantly, while is a compact model, it still has a depth rating of 457m, which takes the client far beyond the reach of light. We have also put a great deal of work into making sure that the product is easy to get in and out of because we appreciate that comfort and ease are an important element of the luxury lifestyle, especially when any given superyacht can have many people on board across a wide age demographic, all of whom may like to use the submersible.
Aboard the Aurora 3C two passengers are seated in the front two luxury leather seats with the pilot sitting in the centre-rear section. The passengers’ bespoke seats were designed specifically for this submersible interior to maximise comfort and ensure optimum ergonomics. Each passenger seat features a leather-covered side armrest equipped with a personal computer screen where passengers can choose between displaying diving depth and navigation data or streaming the HD video camera feed.
The Aurora 3C has an incredible field of view through its large front acrylic window for all occupants, which has been greatly enhanced by the vessel’s patented design. The craft, unlike many others in its class, is unencumbered by the requirement of long forward pontoons that restrict peripheral views.
SEAmagine’s larger three to nine-person submersible range, Aurora, can take occupants to depths of up to 2500m. The Aurora range is perfectly suited to superyacht owners and guests that want to go deeper with more people and for motherships that are less concerned with weight and height restrictions.
“These models have larger spheres and are heavier vessels, but are also incredibly roomy and able to take more passengers,” says Kohnen. “Most superyacht owners aren’t really looking to go beyond 1000m recreationally, and the deeper models are perhaps more suited for clients who wish to engage in serious scientific exploration. Indeed, the world’s ultra-wealthy individuals are increasingly engaging with and contributing to scientific discovery in their spare time and a superyacht is a perfect platform for discovery.”
The Aurora range is not only focussed on depth and performance but also on form and style, as befits life on board a superyacht. Beneath the alluring carbon fibre exterior, SEAmagine’s uncompromising approach utilizes the ultimate materials and components to produce a submersible of the finest quality and reliability. The Aurora design allows it to have a large entry hatch when compared to other models in its class. Like the Aurora 3C, guests sit in bespoke seats with individual computer screens to view data or a HD video stream, and custom configurable interiors are available.
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