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Watch an Old Icebreaker Vessel Get Converted Into a 224-Foot Luxury Explorer Yacht

After 21 months, the company’s attempt to turn an icebreaker into a luxury yacht has entered its final stages..

Senior Staff Writer

Bryan Hood's Most Recent Stories

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One of Icon Yachts ’s most ambitious projects to date is finally nearing completion. After 21 months of hard work, the Netherlands -based company’s attempt to turn an icebreaker into a luxury yacht has entered its final stages.

Dubbed Project Ragnar , the conversion will see the company turn Sanaborg , a former icebreaking multipurpose support supply vessel, into a 224-foot luxury explorer yacht. And now, after nearly two years of construction, Boat International reports that the final outfitting works are underway on the boat’s exterior, while craftsmen have been brought in to give the interior a luxury makeover.

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Originally built from a steel hull back in 2012, the boat formerly known as Snaborg has an exterior and interior designed by British design studio RWD . Despite its smooth and modern lines, the yacht’s design references traditional British and medieval warships. When complete, the refurbished boat will have a Class A1 hull, making it ideal for global exploration, especially in high latitude water. It will be powered by two PC5 diesel-electric, pod-drive engines giving it a cruising range of 6,000 nautical miles.

“Originally built to confront rough weather conditions, she actually has a surplus of power,” Icon previously said of the yacht . “She is strong as a rhino disguised as a swan.”

Fully LY3 compliant, Project Ragnar will offer eight cabins, including two owner’s suites, and will be able to house up to 16 guests. While Icon has yet to release a full list of luxury amenities, the boat will have a spa with a massage room and snow room, along with a pool and jacuzzi. It will also include an aft helipad and a toy storage area with room for a Luxury Ripsaw EV2, Eurocopter EC145 helicopter, two 26-foot tenders, a sea explorer submarine and two laser sailing boats.

Icon Yachts's Project Ragnar

Icon Yachts ‘s Project Ragnar  Icon Yachts

Entering this stage of the conversion means that the boat is almost ready to hit the water. “The pre-commissioning of the technical and propulsion installations has started, making sure the vessel will perform to its peak performance,” the company told Boat International . Project Ragnar is scheduled to enter the testing phase early next year.

Bryan Hood is a digital staff writer at Robb Report. Before joining the magazine, he worked for the New York Post, Artinfo and New York magazine, where he covered everything from celebrity gossip to…

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Superyacht Conversions – From Workboat To Luxury Yacht

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Suri fierce-contender Yacht Conversion

During the years I spent as a cadet on SUNY Maritime ‘s training ship Empire State , I could not begin to tally up the hours spent chipping, wire wheeling, priming and painting.  But no matter how hard we worked it never looked good enough for the Chief Mate. When I got aboard my first working ship, the product Tanker M/V Patriot, I naturally took with me the work ethic and attention to detail learned at the academy. Not a good idea.

As I worked tirelessly to make the fire hose stations, I was tasked to repair look presentable the Chief Mate stopped by and said “This is not, and will never look like, the QE2. Just make sure the danm thing works!”  Well it took many years to prove but I am happy to report that a working ship, no matter what her condition, can look like the QE2 when placed in the hands of Stubbert Maritime .

The vessel shown above is the M/V SuRi formerly the 166′ Seattle based crabber Fierce Contender. Why would you convert a working boat into a luxury yacht? To use it as an escort ship to carry the helicopter, jet boat and other “toys” for your larger yacht!

Unfortunately the idea didn’t seem to work, as the escort yacht’s mothership, the MY Jemasa, is now for sale . We don’t know the details behind the liquidation but, after interior decorating , fuel charge, hiring a crew… running two yachts can not be cheap. No worries though, there are other uses for working ships in the Super-Yacht community, like a floating Yacht Club!

Pacific Provider - Floating Yacht Club

The above drawing is of another fishing vessel conversion the F/V Shelikof. The San Diego Based Ellisworth Marine tells us:

Following a six-month conversion process, the F/V Shelikof will serve as the clubhouse for the “Eastern Pacific Yacht Club (EPYC),” an exclusive membership club offering both boaters and non-boat owners a luxury social platform, water sports, sportfishing and provisioning at sea in the hottest fishing and cruising locations on the Western U.S. and Mexican coastlines. The ship, to be re-christened the M/V “Pacific Provider”, will feature six luxury suites, two 35′ game boats, 60,000 gallons of fuel, dining room, bar, lounge, theater, gymnasium, jet skis, kayaks, sailboats and a variety of other amenities. In the event you prefer to arrive by air, the Pacific Provider also offers a commercially certified helicopter deck. Read More…

M/Y Devotion Photos

Next on the agenda for Stubbert was the creation of the M/Y Devotion. Maritime Executive tells us:

Stabbert Maritime Group has recently completed refit of the 143 ft Motor Yacht Devotion (ex Marjorie Morningstar). Late in 2007 a localized fire in the guest area exposed the vessel to smoke damage. Stabbert Maritime, recognizing the potential value and quality of the damaged yacht, purchased the vessel and began a complete refit. Read More…

M/Y Sahara

In today’s headlines SNYFO tells us:

Stabbert Yacht and Ship (SYS) announces the sale of the 308ft Sahara to a European buyer. The yacht has a previous life as a NOAA Research Ship, and is currently undergoing a complete refit and conversion at SYS in Seattle. The vessel will be exported from the US and may benefit from a new export financing program that SYS say they are now offering to international buyers. Under the program, Stabbert is able to offer competitive financing for buyers by guaranteeing term financing to creditworthy international buyers for purchases of US vessels and refit/conversion services.

“The advantages to foreign buyers in the current economy are enormous.” states CEO Dan Stabbert. “Market conditions present unique opportunities to buy seaworthy commercial vessels for conversion to exploration yachts, shadow boats, or for specialized missions such as oil research or security duties”. Paul Madden adds, “At a time when conventional finance may be difficult to obtain, we can provide a financial package that enables foreign buyers to get on with their projects right now.” Read more…

Well, it’s certainly not the average shipyard job but the teams converting these working ships are doing a great job. Let’s just hope the sales continue through this tough economy.

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Starboard bow view of USS Isabel (SP-521) underway off the coast.

The Yacht that Was a Destroyer

Tradition had it that the yacht Isabel had been built by millionaire Horace Dodge for his daughter Isabel and sold to the U. S. Navy for one dollar with the stipulation that her original name would never be changed. Although the facts fail to support this legend, her history is in many ways more remarkable than fiction.

What the record shows is that the yacht Isabel was under construction at the Bath Iron Works for Mr. J. N. Willys, president of the Willys-Overland Company. (Like Horace Dodge of the legend, Mr. Willys, too, was an automobile millionaire, but there the similarity ends.) Because of World War I, the ship, launched in 1917, was never delivered to her owner. Instead, she was bought by the U. S. Navy for the sum of $611,553. Under the designation SP-521 (a series of numbers used to identify commercial craft requisitioned in World War I), she was commissioned on 28 December 1917.

The Isabel was a rather unusual yacht. She measured 245 feet long by 26-foot beam, and displaced 930 tons full load. While these dimensions were certainly respectable, they were by no means sufficient to make her stand out among the large cruising yachts of her day. What was remarkable was her speed—no less than 28.8 knots. This rate was produced by twin Parsons turbines each fired by a Normand boiler, delivering a total of 8,400 horsepower. The Navy supplemented this speed by a powerful suit of armament—four 3-inch, 50-caliber rifles, two Lewis machine guns, a depth charge projector, and four 18-inch torpedo tubes in twin mounts. With a complement of six officers and 97 men, the Isabel achieved a fame never reached by any other yacht before or since—she was classified as a destroyer. You will find her name in its proper alphabetical niche in the old Ships’ Data books, not among the ordinary converted yachts, but in the destroyer list.

As a destroyer, she set sail for France in January 1918. There she operated as a convoy escort out of Brest until the war’s end, when she returned to Boston via the Azores and Bermuda. Shortly thereafter, she accompanied a group of warships going up the Mississippi River as far as St. Louis on a recruiting cruise, serving as tender to submarine K-5 for the voyage. This junket was followed by another exhibition cruise, this time with the famous transatlantic seaplane NC-4 and its flotilla of escorts, during which the ships stopped at practically every Atlantic and Gulf port from Maine to Pensacola.

The Isabel’s days of triumph were soon to end. In April 1920 she was laid up out of commission at Philadelphia. Even worse, the new system of warship classification was put into effect. Under its heartless rules there was no place for a maverick in the destroyer list. Back among the converted yachts went the Isabel, with the designator PY-10. Her destroyer status was gone forever, but her period of inactivity was short. Rearmed as a yacht and stripped of her torpedo tubes, she was dispatched to the Asiatic Station in 1921, via Gibraltar, Suez, and Hong Kong. Asiatic duty was not without its compensations, because the Isabel now became a flagship. Operating variously with the Yangtze Patrol Force, the South China Patrol, and the Asiatic Fleet, she whiled away the decades in the tropical waters of the Orient, her sides painted spotless white and her decks shaded by canvas awnings. For a periodic overhaul, she would drop in at the Shanghai Dockyard, Ltd., the Cavite Navy Yard, or the Naval Station at Olongapo. By 1941, her age was definitely showing, and she could barely turn up 18 knots at top speed.

Starboard bow view of USS Isabel (PY-10) at anchor off Shanghai, China.

This situation quickly changed as widespread acts of Japanese aggression disturbed the Far East. The Isabel was given a bottom-scraping and something of a face-lifting by the Cavite yard force. Alterations and repairs brought her hull and machinery back to the best that could be expected of an aging former pleasure craft. On 3 December 1941, she was stripped for action and sent to Cam Ranh Bay, French Indochina, where Japanese landings were imminently feared. This particular scare was called off before her arrival on the scene, and she was ordered back to Manila. She was still 70 miles from that port when the blow fell, not on Indochina, but on Pearl Harbor. On the 10th, the Japanese bombers attacked Cavite. The Isabel was near-missed by at least eight dud bombs, and in retaliation, she claimed one attacker shot down. But the Philippines were now untenable for the U. S. Navy, and that night the yacht was told to evacuate in company with the tender Holland and a convoy of auxiliary craft. On orders reportedly shouted by Admiral Thomas C. Hart (Commander in Chief of the Asiatic Fleet) himself from his barge as the ships swept past, her crew employed the hours of darkness to paint her white hull and topsides gray, using brooms and swabs as paint brushes.

For two months the Isabel lived a furtive, hunted existence, keeping barely a skip ahead of the Japanese fleet and trying to operate as a convoy escort and antisubmarine vessel without sonar, radar, or a gyrocompass. She managed to escape damage in the initial air raids on the harbors of Batavia, Palembang, Surabaya, and Tjilatjap. Her only effective counterblow was struck on 7 February 1942 when she was ordered to rescue survivors of a Dutch merchantman. While she was thus engaged, a submarine suddenly surfaced nearby. The Isabel drove the intruder down with a shower of shells from her 3-inchers about the conning tower, then proceeded, assisted by a Catalina flying boat, to drop depth charges on the sub. Mission accomplished, she brought back 187 survivors to port. Just a few days later, she took one of the last convoys out of the Java Sea through Sunda Strait. As an indication of the deplorable conditions prevailing at that time, it is reported that all her radios had been removed to set up a last ditch command post ashore on Java, and traffic to and from this convoy had to be handled by way of a merchant ship which relayed messages to the Isabel in a can on a heaving line. The last day of February found her hiding under trees and brush in Tjilatjap harbor, on the south coast of Java, from whence she sortied on 1 March bearing the last evacuees from Java, in company with the Sea Witch under cover of a raging tropical storm. The Japanese occupied the town the next day. Their bombers soon spotted the forlorn little convoy and circled it hungrily. Forty miles ahead, a larger group of ships drew the attention of the Japanese, and the gunboat Asheville was sent to the bottom. Luckily the Isabel escaped in squalls and heavy weather. On 7 March, she arrived at Fremantle, Australia, after having suffered much storm damage, with 100 rounds of ammunition, and two hours’ supply of fuel left in her tanks.

For the rest of the war, the Isabel operated in relatively safe waters, though she never rested. The Australians hauled her up on their marine railway, repaired her, and installed a Fathometer, British Asdic (sonar listening gear), and degaussing coils. Twenty-millimeter anti-aircraft guns were put aboard, believed to be the first of this caliber to be fired in the Southwest Pacific. The yacht then entered on a tour of duty as antisubmarine patrol vessel off Fremantle. Later she served as a training ship for the British, Dutch, and American submarines refitting and operating out of that port. Several times she was damaged by heavy weather in the Indian Ocean, but she carried through to the end. After the surrender of Japan, she departed for San Francisco via Darwin, Port Moresby, New Guinea, and Manus Island. When she finally poked her nose through the Golden Gate, it was the first time in 23 years that she had been back in continental U. S. waters.

She had returned none too soon. Like the wonderful one-hoss shay, the Isabel was going to pieces all at once. The normal course would have been to decommission and lay her up for disposal as surplus, but the Commandant of the 12th Naval District reported it would cost $40,000 just for repairs to keep her afloat—only her crew was holding her together. A Board of Inspection and Survey reported its dismal findings:

“Condition of the ship as a whole very poor. Estimated hull in fireroom, engine room and afterpeak leaking 250 gallons water per hour. . . . Hull plating exceedingly thin from normal corrosion over many years. Main engines obsolete and require overhaul. Boiler No. 1 requires retubing. Auxiliary machinery generally obsolete and in need of major overhaul. . . . With hull plating so thin considered unsafe to tie up in a nest.”

The formal written report of the full Board added a few more facts. Although she had suffered no battle damage during her entire period of operation, she had had to spend most of 1945 in drydock trying to repair leaks which still plagued her; a minor collision with an LST showed her shell plating to be almost paper thin, the entire hull easily dented; her wooden superstructure and canvas-covered decks were old, rotten, and damaged; her mast was too weak to carry a radar antenna. The Board recommended she be scrapped, or even towed to sea and sunk. By 8 December the Commandant was becoming frantic. In a dispatch to the Chief of Naval Operations, he urgently requested a decision: “ISABEL PY-10 BECOMING AN INCREASING PROBLEM TO KEEP AFLOAT.” Scrapping was quickly approved, but so urgent was her case that no time was left for the formalities of an auction or sale to commercial scrappers. Mare Island Navy Yard was ordered to put her in drydock immediately and scrap her.

So, on 11 February 1946 at Mare Island, the Isabel’s ensign and commission pennant were hauled down for the last time. Her name was stricken from the Register on the 26th and by the end of March, her remains were on the scrap pile.

The Isabel had done her job well, serving her country in distant waters for almost three decades. It was almost as if she had held herself together by sheer will power to get back home at all. But this should not be surprising to anyone, for after all, the Isabel was no ordinary yacht—she had been a destroyer.

Commander John Alden, U. S. Navy (Retired)

John D. Alden, a retired U.S. Navy commander and World War II veteran, has written five books and numerous articles for the U.S. Naval Institute.

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Western Canada’s Maritime War Dividend ‐ Military Vessels Converted for Civilian Use

by George Duddy (2016) (prior efforts acknowledged by the late John Henderson with updates by John M. MacFarlane 2015)

"...and they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks... "

Former RCN corvettes in the “Ghost Fleet” at Bedwell Bay, Indian Arm BC. The port side vessel and K–492 were converted to Union Steamship coastal passenger ships. ( Vancouver Archives CVA 1184-3463, photographer Jack Lindsay )

This is an update to the 2015 Nauticapedia article entitled “Military Vessels Converted to Tugs & Yachts in British Columbia Waters”.

Before he died in 2008, John MacFarlane’s cousin John Henderson wrote a draft of an article on converted military tugs which, to the best of John’s knowledge, was never published. Henderson was a well‐known marine engineer and a life-long ship buff. He developed this great passion from his early childhood interest in tug boats. In 2015 John MacFarlane updated the lists to include other classes of vessels. In 2016 the author expanded the list again.

After the First, and particularly the Second, World Wars the local maritime economy received a tremendous boost from the availability in large numbers of surplus military vessels. These could be purchased at a fraction of their original costs and were almost instantly available. Canada's WWII west coast shipbuilding efforts focused on building large “Victory” type ships.These were mostly unsuitable for the postwar coastal shipping industry. Fortunately the United States had a ready supply of accessable and available surplus vessels.

An influx of high quality surplus military vessels propelled the towing and transportation industry, as well as the forest and fishing industries, to a level that might not otherwise have been possible in British Columbia without this ready supply. Some even became private yachts. The vessels came mainly from the UK and USA with a few provided by the Canadian forces after WWII.

Their purchase at low cost was indeed a small war dividend to the economy of a country that had contributed much in terms of lives and cost to the war effort.

This article is a portal to a vast amount of data contained in The Nauticapedia database. It is organized by the various classes of vessels that were purchased. Vessels identified by their military names or pennant numbers are linked directly to their Canadian registered names and can be accessed directly from the article.

This is a vast topic and will remain a work in progress as more information is collected. It covers, with only a few exceptions, vessels that were Canadian registered and operated on Canada's west coast, the western Arctic, the Mackenzie River inland waterway and other inland waters. To put a practical boundary on the project a limitation of over fifty feet in length has been placed on vessels in the study. All originally non‐powered craft have been excluded omitting many army and navy tugs, motor launches and military crash boats that are worthy of mention but would require extensive research to include or, in the case of RCAF vessels, duplicate efforts already covered in another Nauticapedia RCAF related article . Many of the vessels identified in this category were former landing craft vessels (eg LCPI ‐ Higgins Boats). They were favoured by coast loggers for service in the logging camps because of their hinged bows that could be lowered to facilitate loading and unloading of equipment on ramps and beaches. The variety of former Canadian military vessels available after WWII is illustrated in “The Ghost Fleet of Bedwell Bay BC” .

The Canadian registry system for most imported US vessels does not provide original names or numbers for the vessels. Additionally, because of the large numbers of vessels built, only a range of possible vessels can be specified. In those situations, the listing reflects the first name or number in the range followed by a question mark. For instance: La Pine could be one of a number of the vessels built by the Elizabeth City Shipyards in the range SC‐1279 through SC‐1282. The vessel is listed as SC‐1279?

Former Canadian salvage ship sold to RN for WWII service

This is an exception to all other ships in this article as the vessel in question was a civilian vessel purchased for military service.

#150909

Former Royal Navy minesweepers

Hunt class minesweeper HMS Camberley ( Photo from Imperial War Museum )

These sister ships former Royal Navy Hunt class minesweepers were acquired by Union Steamship and converted for use on their coastal service in 1925.

Lady Cecilia #152718
Lady Cynthia #152898

Former British Admiralty WWI rescue tugs and whaling vessels

Canadian National No. 2 ( Photo from the John Henderson collection )

These veteran WWI steel steam‐powered vessels served their new country to well after WWII performing rail barge, log barge, Davis raft and other heavy tows.

In April 1916 the British Admiralty placed orders for 64 Saint class 143 foot tugs from shipyards around the United Kingdom and in Hong Kong. When the WWI ended many of them were not yet completed. Eventually 18 were cancelled, 46 were completed and most were laid up as soon as they were delivered. The decision was made to sell surplus tugs to commercial operators who prized them as high quality vessels. They were the first tugs to have a raised fo'c'sle deck that extended to the aft end of the boat deck. All the tugs were single screw and fitted with a coal‐fired triple‐expansion steam engine with an output of 1250 ihp and were capable of a speed of 12 knots. With a large coal capacity they could steam at full power for 15 days.

The triple‐expansion reciprocating engine had cylinders of 18 1/4″, 28 1/2″ and 48 1/4″ diameters and a 28″ stroke at 125rpm the engine developed 1250 ihp. The two single‐ended scotch boilers were coal‐fired along with the usual auxiliaries and fitted with a ten ton per day capacity evaporating and distilling plant for desalination of sea water. They were also equipped with electric lighting, the power derived from a 12kw generator driven by a 20hp turbine.

The fourth member of this group HMS Finwhale began life as a shorter 125 foot Admiralty Whaler class vessel tasked as a coastal anti‐submarine escort. A total of 15 vessels were constructed for WWI.

Canadian National No. 2; Polaris (II); Gulf Freda #143165
S.D. Brooks; Haida Monarch (I); Le Beau (II); Unit Shipper; Killarney #143397
Kyuquot (I) #143307
Hopkins Bros.; Canadian National No.1 #145356

Former British Admiralty WWII RN salvage ships acquired with partial or full Canadian ownership

Near the beginning of the war the British Admiralty ordered four steel 213 foot salvage ships from the Basalt Rock Company Inc. of Napa, California. Caledonian Salvor (BARS 1) which became the well‐known Canadian tug Sudbury II and Cambrian Salvor (BARS 2) were both owned by Island Tug and Barge Ltd. of Victoria who used them for trans‐ocean tows of retired ships to Asian scrap yards. The Cambrian Salvor , unlike her sister, was never registered in Canada. Two of the vessels of the original order Atlantic Salvor (BARS 3) and Pacific Salvor (ARS 34) were retained for use with the US Navy becoming respectively USS Clamp (ARS 33) and USS Gear (ARS 34).

Caledonian Salvor; Sudbury II; Lady Pacific #196261
Cambrian Salvor; HMS Cambrian Salvor; Cambrian Salvor HMAS; Cambrian Salvor; Caribische Zee; Collinsea; Francois C.; Ras Deira #NCdnReg

Former British Admiralty RN Assurance class tugs

HMRT Allegiance , June 1943 ( Photo from Imperial War Museum )

There were 21 Assurance class tugs built by Cochrane and Sons Ltd., Selby, Yorkshire UK during the WWII as rescue tugs. They were all 156.6′ x 35′ x 16.6′ powered by triple‐expansion 1350ihp steam engines producing 13 knots on a single screw.

Rivtow Lion #182199
Adherent; Hermes; Rivtow Viking #330812

Former RCN Flower class corvette HMCS Sudbury converted to a tug

HMCS Sudbury ( Photo from ReadyAyeReady.com )

After ending a long career with the RCN on the west coast the Flower class corvette HMCS Sudbury was converted to a salvage tug in 1949 for Island Tug and Barge Company Ltd. of Victoria, BC. Her fame for successfully completing trans‐ocean tows became legend.

Sudbury #190601

Former RCN and RN Castle class corvettes converted to transports

HMCS St Thomas at Molville, Northern Ireland ( Photo from City of Vancouver Archives Item: CVA 374-3)

These Castle class vessels were a key element for a local company. The Union Steamship Company renewed their fleet to enable coastal transportation to resource‐based coastal communities.

Leaside (HMCS); Coquitlam (II); Glacier Queen (I) #176902
St. Thomas (HMCS); Camosun (III); Chilcotin (I) #176903
Hespeler (HMCS); Chilcotin (II); Capri; Stella Maris; Westar (I) #178070

RCN Fairmile motor launches

HMC ML120 DND ( Photo from article THE FAIRMILES - CANADA'S LITTLE SHIPS )

A brief history and specifications for RCN Type B launches is contained in a descriptive paragraph "Fairmiles of the RCN" from The Naval Museum of Manitoba's website.

The vessels included below operated post‐war on the west coast and were selected from The Nauticapedia article prepared by Commander Fraser McKee RCN(R) “Where Did the RCN Motor Launches Get To?” Not all of the vessels listed were commissioned into the RCN. Seven were purchased by Hamiltar Ltd., the owners of Malibu Lodge on Princess Louisa Inlet.

The website Fairmiles of the Royal Canadian Navy provides extensive information about Canadian Fairmiles and their subsequent civilian life including many photographs.

Earlmar #176481
Stranger II (I) #176672
S.T.S.; Salvor (IV); Marine Freight No. 1; Sechelt Narrows; Miss Linda #176230
Harwood; Casa Mia #176502
Machigonne (III); Gulf Ranger (III); Coast Ranger; Saracen III; Lahaina Lady; Noble Lady #176475
Troubadour III; Gulf Wing; Nimpkiss Princess; Northland Princess; Kona Winds; Knight Time II #176497
Malibu Tyee; Nancy N. Seymour; Sogno d'Oro #176742
Malibu Marlin; Toluca (US) #176473
PTC 724; Elk (HMCS) (II); Teirrah; Pacific Gold; Zues II (US) #312819
Malibu Tilikum; Yorkeen; Campana; Jornholm; Gulfstream II #176474
Princess Malibu #176482
Chief Malibu #176483
Princess Louisa Inlet #176485
Malibu Inez; Huntress (I); Viking; Island Adventuress #176231

Royal Canadian Navy (Fishermen Reserve Division) seiner type vessels

Western Girl (RCASC); Western Girl #174070
Talapus (HMCS); Parry (CGS); Parry #177553
Kuitan (HMCS); Cape Bathurst; Kornat I #178828
Ehkoli (CNAV); Northwest Explorer (I); Pacific Spirit; Ehkoli #313121
Cape Palmerston (I); Besbro Lady FY.13
Leelo (HMCS); Leelo FY.15

RCN Norton class tugs

Tugs of the Norton class at 115 feet and 257 tons were the largest built for the RCN in WWII. Eight were constructed in eastern Canadian yards. Only the CNAV Heatherton served on the west coast at the end of the war. She was joined by the CNAV Clifton after the war. Both were eventually sold to private owners. Clifton was registered in Vancouver and was briefly employed on the west coast. Heatherton was registered in Quebec and employed in the east.

Clifton (CNAV); Clifton #391334

RCN Glen class tugs

Glen class WWII tugs built for the RCN were nominally 80 feet in length. They were constructed in both wood and in two distinct steel models: long house and short house. The west coast fleet consisted of three of the four wood models constructed by McKenzie Barge and Derrick of North Vancouver: Glendevon , Glendon and Glenholme plus a steel short house model Glencove and a long house model Glenshiel . Both steel tugs were built by Russel Bros. of Owen Sound, Ontario.

Lotbiniere; Glenshiel #176554
Consol II; Glen Rover #176561
Scanlon; C.P. Yorke; Trojan; Glenholme #176893
Glendon (CNAV); North Arm Highlander; Timber Wolf (I) #323218
Glendevon (II) #323277

RCN North class tugs

The RCN purchased four 74 foot tugs from American Marine Corp., New Orleans in 1942 all with names starting with North. The North Shore was the only one that served on the west coast.

Marpole #177607

Other RCN vessels converted to tugs and transport use

A.G. Garrish; Arctic Rover; La Force (II); Polaris (I) #141341
Herchmer (RCMP); Gulf Mariner (I) #177616
La Verne #179470
Kalamalka #190303
John T. Nadin #818988

Canadian Army vessels

Four members of this group in the over fifty feet in length category have been found. According to marine writer S.C. Heal, the last two listed, General Cotton (RCASC) and General Kennedy (RCASC) were sister ships to General MacKenzie (RCAF), see below. The second is better known as the navy vessel HMCS Cedarwood . Presumably because of hull condition she was sometimes also disparagingly known as HMCS “Wormwood” .

According to Wikipedia: “After her naval service she was converted as a replica of the paddle steamer Beaver and then had other dummy fittings added to play the role of the steamer Commodore during the British Columbia centennial celebrations.”

Ardronan; Black Bird II; Gulf Bird #173476
General Schmidlin (RCASC) (II); Cedarwood (HMCS); Cedarwood #175463
Squamish Queen (II)
Hecate Straits (I); Maple Ridge (II); Regal Spirit

RCAF vessels converted to tugs and fish packers

The RCAF employed only a few larger vessels during WWII. Numerous smaller vessels made up the bulk of their fleet, see the Nauticapedia list for such vessels.

Hesquiat (II) #176891
Songhee (CNAV); Songhee; Driftwood #176893
Kimsquit (II) #176896
Mar Bermejo; Majellan Streight; Magellan Straits; Magellan #194210

Miscellaneous government vessels

It is not clear whether these were truly military vessels but they are included for completeness.

F.D.2 #177593
F.D.1; Kilslai; Lorinda B #177594

US Navy ATR class 156 foot wood rescue tugs

There were 80 ATR–type wooden steam‐powered salvage and rescue tugs constructed in two groups: ATR 1 ‐ 40 and ATR 50 ‐ 89. All, except four which were given to the UK under the lend‐lease program, were retained as US Navy vessels. A third group was ordered and completed as 143 foot steel diesel vessels. The steel vessels were later re‐designated as ATA (auxiliary tugs). The design and specifications for the wood vessels were based on steel tugs that US yards were constructing for the British Admiralty. Construction in wood allowed smaller yards to participate in the rescue tug program freeing up already taxed resources in the steel shipyard program. Each vessel required over one million board feet of lumber and construction time was up to 14 months from keel‐laying to commissioning. They were powered with relatively simple triple‐expansion reciprocating steam engines developing 1600 ihp. While the wood rescue tugs had less towing endurance than their steel diesel cousins, they had superior firefighting capability making them more suitable for operating in combat zones, and in particular, landing beaches.

Salvage King (II) #179055
Pacmar #179480
Logmac; Mogul; Island Monarch; Seaspan Chinook; La Lumiere #179431
Towmac; Salvor (V) #179458

US Navy ATO class tugs

This is the sole example of a pre‐WWII US Navy tug.

Edward J. Coyle; Commodore Straits (II) #179466

US Navy APc class coastal transports

USS APc–38 ( US Naval History and Heritage Command Photo #NH96395 courtesy NavSource )

This group of vessels is covered in more detail in an article by George Duddy in The Nauticapedia examining the full story of this class and the very confusing history of each of the vessels.

Sekani; Wilmae Straits; Enterprise (XI) #178052
George M. Lindsay; La Belle(II); Calm C.; Calm Sea #179053
Gulf Trader; La Belle; Black Trader #179077
Nahmint (II); #179748
Coastal Trader (US); Sea Queen; La Fleur; T-W Sea Queen #192059
Coastal Trader II (US); Cape Scott( III), Cape Cross (US) #192067
Northern Girl (I); Loughborough Princess #192495
Sea Prince; Le Prince (I); T-W Sea Prince; Sea Prince #192870
P.B. Anderson; T-W Zelley #193770
Sea Lark II; M.J. Scanlon #193771
Stormbird (I) (US); La Dene; Anna D (US) #193790

US Navy WWI submarine chasers and other vessels

In civilian life she was a rumrunner and tug. ( Vancouver Archives CVA 447-2730 - MS Sub-Chaser 310, photographer Walter Edwin Frost )

The members of this class are ordered by their registration numbers (the O/N). All of the submarine chasers except the Amboyna and the Amaryllsis were possibly Canadian rumrunners during Prohibition.

Etta Mac; Grant Lindsay; Debbie Kathleen K. #150649
Trucilla #150650
Amarlysis (I); Amaryllis (RCAF); Amaryllis (I) #153219
Arbutus (III); Nanaimo Clipper #153320
Ramona (II) (US); Ragna; Great Northern 1 #156612
Hurry Home; Marauder; Marauder (HMCS); Marauder (I) #156633
Zip #156898
Ocelot (US); Hickey; Hickey (RCASC); Hickey #157448
Blue Water; Gulf Stream; Stranger (III); Wolf (HMCS); Gulf Stream #172512
Squamish (US); Terry (US); Amboyna; Suquamish I; Julian Rose MMXI XI XI #179642

US Navy WWII submarine chasers

The members of this class are ordered by their registration numbers (the O/N). There is confusion between the designation PC and SC. After 1920 but before 1943 the PC designation was used for all subchasers but afterwards all 110 foot WWII vessels were re‐designated to SC when a new class of PC steel 173 foot vessel was introduced. After the war (until 1947) 70 subchasers were assigned to the United States Coast Guard for air rescue duties in conjunction with the demobilization of US aircraft from the various off‐shore bases and theatres of war. These received new Air names and designations. For example SC‐772 became Air Mallard (WAVR R437).

Jervis Express; Tournament; T–W Islander; Mainland Express; Pacific Express #178056
La Pine; Senarietta II; Tai–Lai; Argonaut III #178799
Norqueen #178814
Kaigani II; Seymour Narrows; Triggerfish (I) #179598
Quatsino (III) #179614
SC–1039 (USS); Norking #179630
Radiant (US); Sechelt Chief (II); Nanaimo Chief; Donalee; Radiant #190339
Norman Nelson; Western Dispatcher (II) #190573
Cairdeas #192037
Nootka Chief (I); Derek Todd #192041
Air Killdeer (WAVR) (USCGS); Cape Pine #193787
Air Mallard (WAVR) (USCGS); Joan Lindsay; Maplewood; Lady Goodiver #194224
Cape Spruce #194651
Air Crow (WAVR) (USCGS); Linda (IV) #194653
La Gloria (Mexico); Randy; G.N. Carrier #194690
SC–504 (USS); Wesco No. 50; Pacific Laurel #194941

US Navy Accentor AMc class minesweepers

USS Progress AMc-98 ( Photo source unknown )

Many vessels of this class were completed as APc coastal transports when it became apparent that too many of this class of minesweeper had been ordered. The vessels of this class are ordered by their registration numbers (the O/N).

Norcrest; Ernest Todd #178240
H&L #179073
Prestige; Johnston Straits II; Broughton Straits (II) #197393

US Navy YMS class minesweepers and PCS patrol class sweepers

This was the largest class of vessels constructed during WWII. A total of 561 of these scrappy 136 foot wooden‐hulled vessels were constructed including 150 transferred to the British under the lend‐lease program.These were built in three distinctive batches: YMS–1 to YMS–134 were constructed with two funnels, YMS–135 to YMS–445 and YMS–480 and YMS–481 had one funnel while the rest had none. Another US Navy class, the PCS patrol class sweeper, was also constructed using the YMS hull. Not all were reclassified as YMS vessels as evidenced by PCS–1452.

There are a number of other vessels that were brought to BC but it is unknown if they were ever registered. A YMS of unknown number and YMS–331 were used for a time as part of a floating breakwater by Mahood Lumber Company at Wolfson Creek on the Sechelt coast. YMS–331 was eventually demolished and burnt but the unknown vessel was moved to Squirrel Cove on Cortes Island where she remains as a wreck on the beach. YMS–407 was purchased to become Uchuck IV for Barkley Sound Navigation but her conversion was not completed and no record was found of her registration.

YMS–159, which may have been registered, had a brief career as chip barge VT. No 100 for Vancouver Tug but ended up becoming a dive‐on wreck at Bedwell Bay. She will be added to the list when a record of her registration is found.

Tahsis Chief; West Whale 4; Lavallee II #178825
Western Express (I) #179082
Phillips I (US); Susie C (US); Marijean; Maquinna #179442
Uchuck III #179475
Salvor (III); Salvage Queen (II); Patsy Lee (US); Clear Water (US) #179617
Marabell #179625
La Beverie; Wild Goose II; Wild Goose (US) #190590
Tahsis Chief No. 2; W.F. Gibson; Majorie Todd #190829
Tahsis King; Tahsis Straits; Pacific Venture (II) #192079
Cosbur No. 2; Cosbur (I); Clover Leaf; Hecate; Roland #192481
PCS 1452; PCS 1452 (non-powered barge); N.S.P. No.7 #192491
Misinderan (US); Western Challenger #192851
V.O. (US); Pacific Prince #195231
Cordova (HMCS); Cordova; Harbour Queen No.1; Nakaya #330420

US Navy miscellaneous vessels

The vessels included comprise a variety of types including tugs, landing craft, self‐propelled lighters and oilers.

Four former US military vessels used in the western arctic for re‐supply of Distant Early Warning ‐ DEW Line ‐ stations have been excluded. Preliminary research indicates these vessels were not Canadian registered but were simply loaned to the Northern Transportation Company Ltd. for this purpose. The vessels included LSTs 692 and 1072, dry dock ship ARD–31 and fuel supply ship AOG Pinnebog .

Abele; Superior Straits #173188
Western Shell; Pacific Ree #178797
Redonda (II) #194214
Snowbird II (RCAF); Angus R.; General Levis #179631
LCI(L)–579 (USS); Yellowknife Expeditor; Y–Tee Expeditor; NT Expeditor #192050
LST–3535 (HMS); Transfer No.4 (II); Seaspan 923; Schonlogger II #194366
LST–1003 (USS); Coronis (USS) (ARL–10); Trailer Princess #327072
Tyee Princess #391407
L.C.E. (US); Titan (US); Trojan I (II) #820094
Watseka (USS); Sea Horse (II); NT Covenant; Raggedy Ann; Sea Horse #836679

US Coast Guard 83 foot patrol vessels

USCG-1 ( Photo from www.uscg.mil )

Three examples of the US Coast Guard's mini version of a subchaser became resident in western Canada. In a post‐war capacity these vessels became popular as yachts and charter vessels. A large number of the 83 footers were built, all by Wheeler Shipbuilding Corp. of Brooklyn, New York. For further details see USCG 83 foot cutter histories.

Trenora (US); Lord Nelson III #370225
Elfin #370268
Addisonia (US); Calafia (US); Island Holiday (US); Rosario Princess (US); Nautilus; Emerald Tide #818031

Other US Coast Guard and US government vessels

These vessels originally served in the United States Revenue Service (USRS) as lighthouse tenders or revenue cutters or as US Coast Guard vessels before becoming well‐known local tugs.

Snohomish (USRS); Snohomish; Matarsin (Argentine Navy); Ona Sol (Argentina) #158954
Del Draco (US); Basalt No.1 (US); Jorgie; Ocean Comet (I); Mount Comet #178829
Nemaha (US); Sea Monarch (II); Le Roi (II) #193513

US Army LT Design 293 wood tugs (Miki class tugs)

US Army ocean tugs were classified as LT (Large Tug) or ST (Small Tug). Most were unnamed but were given a unique serial number prefixed by LT or ST. A total of 718 tugs were constructed to several designs both in wood and in steel. Some existing civilian tugs drafted into military service were also given serial numbers. The largest ST tug built appears to be 86 feet.

Design 293 class of tugs was modelled after the tug Miki Miki built in 1929 for Young Bros. Towing of Honolulu Hawaii. They were designed by L.H. Coolidge and several were built by Ballard Marine. Officially they were known as Miki class tugs (ocean-going). There were 61 built for the US Army Transportation Service (USATS). They were 128’ x 28’ x 16’ and were powered by either a 1200hp Enterprise engine or a 1200hp Superior engine in the single screw (Miki) version. In the twin screw (Miki Miki) version they carried a 600hp or 900hhp Fairbanks–Morse engine. All the twin screw versions were built on the west coast using fir and cedar. The name Miki Miki means “on time”.

Florence Filberg #176286
Mary Mackin #176287
Island Navigator; Isla; Pablo #177383
J.S. Foley; Haida Warrior (III); Active (V); 109 #178830
Ernest F. Ladd; Lloyd B. Gore; Ernest F. Ladd; Ku'ulakai #193524
James M. Curley; Johnstone Straits; Centennial Lion #198101

US Army LT miscellaneous design steel tugs

The three LT steel tugs that operated in British Columbian waters were all of different designs: LT–62 was design 228 at 123 feet in length, LT–533 was design 377‐A at 143 feet while LT–829 was design 327‐D at 149 feet.

Design 377‐A army tugs were built to the same design and built in the same yards as US Navy ATR steel rescue tugs. These rescue tugs were later reclassified as ATA auxiliary tugs. In 1948 a group of these ATA tugs were given the designation as Sotoyomo class but this designation never applied to LT–533 as she was delivered as an army tug before this time. Reports are varied: LT–533 may have been a navy tug or she may have been ordered as a navy tug but delivered as an army one. This confusion is not surprising given the exigencies of war‐time production.

LT–62 (USATS); Island Sovereign; Seaspan Sovereign #192879
Foundation Lillian; Roy H. Peters; Escort; N.R. Lang; Haida Chieftain; Audry Gail #178987
Gulf Joan; Seaspan Commander (II); Sea Commander #325683

US Army ST design 332 wood tugs

Two tugs of this design operated in local coastal waters.

Island Ranger; Seaspan Ranger; Island Ranger #177371
Thor (I) (US); R. Bell–Irving; Stormking #194214

US Army ST design 257–A steel tugs

Former US Army ST design 257-A tugs being loaded onto sunken barge Island Yarder in dry dock at Ballard, Washington State. ( Photo courtesy MMBC )

Local involvement with this class of vessel occurred in two independent ways. The first involved transportation of six them from Puget Sound, USA to Buenos Aires, Argentina while the second was purchase of three for use in the local towing industry.

In what has been described as an “adroit” and likely “very profitable transaction” by Island Tug and Barge Company of Victoria, BC, the company sold its large tug Snohomish and large barge the original Island Trader to Argentinian interests at a time when the local market was saturated with surplus vessels. The delivery in 1947-1948, marking one of the longest tows on record was accomplished, under company master Captain Fred MacFarlane. In addition to fuel cargo the barge carried six surplus US Army ST tugs as deck cargo. Five of the six have been identified: ST-85, ST-146, ST-147, ST-164 and ST-167.

Three tugs of this design operated in local coastal waters.The reader who opens the links for these vessels will note that two of these vessels came to tragic ends with at least in one case loss of life. This echoed in the fate of a US sister tug W.H. Mcfadden . It was thought that there may have been a stability problem with this class of vessel in open waters.

E–170; George McGregor #177387
Isabella Stewart; Fraser Crown; Pacific Buoy #177418
F.M. Yorke #178238

US Army ST class river tugs (RT) steel tugs

Canol Project river tugs and barges hauled out for winter freeze‐up. Location thought to be Camp Canol opposite Norman Wells NT. ( Courtesy NT Archives )

These tugs were supplied by the US Army for transportation on the Mackenzie River for the Canol Pipeline Project and later sold to Northern Transportation Company Limited (NTCL), originally a crown corporation.

Clearwater; Horn River #176217
Slave #176218
Peace #192889

US Army ST unidentified tugs

It is suspected the tugs in this group are ST tugs. Columbia King had a sister ship Columbia Queen (ST–349) in the US Army. The ST–1923 may have military roots but her ST number appears to be invalid.

ST–unknown (USATS); Columbia King (US); Gillking #178776
Grand Bank; Nanaimo Clipper; Savage Warrior #183366

US Army TP class wooden tugs

Former US Army tug TP–231 lives on as the Breeze after extensive service on the west coast. ( Photo from the Rob Stewart collection, used with permission )

The TP class of harbour tugs were all purpose‐built support vessels used in towing and tendering and general utility work for the US Army. There were 43 TPs constructed and all had low power as a wartime economy measure. They were a west coast phenomenon as all were built in Washington State or California. Almost all were sold into commercial use after the war ended with nine coming to western Canada. They were 96 feet nominal length with 450hp Fairbanks–Morse six cylinder engines. All were built with 12" x 14" deck beams on 18" centers and 12" x 14" ribs. All the hull planks were through‐bolted and the hull treated with coal oil and sheathed in ironwood. They all had extra cabins and a large hold in the stern with a 40‐ton capacity allowing them dual capability for transporting personnel as well as serving as tugs – hence the designation TP (designating Tug Personnel).

Island Champion (I) #177373
Island Challenger (I); Seaspan Challenger; Seaspan Cavalier (I); Challenger (I) #177380
Senator (II); Rosario Straits (I); Fury Straits; Seaforth Fury; Senator (II); Mt. Ream; Wild Horses #178207
Sea Giant; La Brise; Seaspan Breeze; Breeze #178231
Jim (US); Sirmac; Jim (US) #192294
Adak (II); Pacific Chief; Adak II (US) #193517
Arctic Queen (US); Charlotte Straits #193766
Santrinia (US); Pacific Master; Haro Straits (I); Haro (II); Driftwood; Songhee #193772
Daring (I) (US); Anna Gore; Seaspan Daring #194698

Miscellaneous US Army transport vessels

The first four vessels in this group are all former US Army freight supply (FS) vessels.The last one is a coastal tanker which later was operated by the US Navy as YOL-2 (USS).

Cape James (II) #189245
Libby (US); Veta C.; Chelan #193774
Pomare (Mexico); Princess of Alberni; Nootka Prince; Techno Crown; Ocean Crown #195786
Pacific Yellowfin #822563
YOL-2 (USS); Argo (US); Argus (I); Straits No.12; Pacific Barge 12; Rivtow 7; Browns 301 #192513

Miscellaneous US vessels over 50 feet

Limited detail is available about the origins of these vessels but they also served the local economy.

Speedmac; Griffin III; Shogun II #192514
Gertrude H. #192880
Canfors No.7 (or Canfors No. 8); Big Mother; Mountain Ranger #193472
Flying Saucer (US); B.C. Scaler; Tarquin II; New Beldis; Glowing Dawn #193530

Observations and Conclusions

A fine example of a YMS minesweeper, extensively modified and maintained, the Uchuck III continues to contribute to the economy as she nears her 75th year in 2016. (Photo from the John Arnold collection, used with permission )

It is hoped that the foregoing compilations will be of use in tracing the roots of foreign vessels that became part of the British Columbia fleet after WWI and WWII. Huge numbers of vessels were necessary to get combat forces to the battlefields and this required an enormous shipbuilding effort. Afterwards, they provided a terrific boost to the provincial economy by providing replacement vessels to industries that had been starved of new construction during the war years and were available for purchase at bargain basement prices. An impressive effort in shipbuilding saw hundreds of North American shipyards produce thousands of ships in only a few years. This occurred in tiny boat‐building yards in remote communities as well as in huge factory yards. Even inland yards remote from the sea were involved. For example, during WWII the Missouri Valley Bridge Company – an in‐land yard built in a cornfield near Leavenworth Kansas – produced over 100 ships including nearly 70 LCTs.

Although many steel vessels were available in the war surplus fleets, the locals predominately chose diesel‐powered wooden vessels. Former US Navy APc class coastal transports, US Navy subchasers, US Army Miki LT and TP class tugs were the favoured choice for reviving and upgrading the tug fleet and completing the transition from steam to diesel power. The APc vessels were also popular for coastal transportation. Many found early employment in the fishing industry as fish packers. Some of the vessels became power yachts for local nabobs and others were used by charter operators. It is also worth mentioning that some locals made very good use of former WWI subchasers as rumrunners to enhance their fortunes during prohibition days.

Acknowledgements

The author thanks Suzanne Sulzberger and her team for providing access to vessel registration documents held at the Library and Archives of Canada (LAC) Burnaby facility and the members of the British Columbia Nautical History Facebook Group for their assistance in sorting out the origins of several vessels in this list and background on the Miki Miki tugs as well as providing use of photographs. Thanks too to marine writers S.C. Heal and Frank Clapp for use of material and Lea Edgar of the Vancouver Maritime Museum for her assistance. The Nauticapedia vessel database was frequently referred to for this project.

For tracking the origins of US vessels the extensive shipbuilding records collected by Tim Colton in his Shipbuilding History website was of prime importance. The Shipscribe.com website, Register of Ships of the US Navy Auxiliary Vessels was of much help as was the NavSource website. A study on US Army ST tugs entitled “U.S. Army ST/RT Small Harbor Tugs, Built or Used During World War II and the Korean War 1890 ‐ 1946 (sic) Updated 9 26 2014” was also consulted. This resulted in the identification of three re‐designated ST river class vessels that were used on the Mackenzie River system. For tracking the origins of US Navy tugs reference was also made to the book by CDR David D. Bruhn, USN (Retired) “We Are Sinking, Send Help!”. I also am grateful to my friend and former colleague at BC Hydro Al Imrie for reaching back to his student employment days and providing me the names of US Navy vessels employed by NTCL for re-supply of Dew Line radar stations.

The sources for the photographs are acknowledged in the body of the article. The author thanks those who provided permission for use of their images.

The author wishes to acknowledge the initial effort to compile data by the late John Henderson and the updates by John M. MacFarlane in 2015 and thank team members Lynn and Dan Salmon for their assistance with editing and website coding for the article.

To quote from this article please cite:

The late John Henderson with updates by John M. MacFarlane (2015) and George Duddy (2016) Western Canada’s Maritime War Dividend–Military Vessels Converted for Civilian Use Nauticapedia.ca 2016. http://nauticapedia.ca/Articles/Converted_Military_Vessels.php

Site News: July 01, 2024

The vessel database has been updated and is now holding 93,287 vessel histories (with 15,819 images and 13,772 records of ship wrecks and marine disasters). The mariner and naval biography database has also been updated and now contains 58,618 entries (with 4,019 images).

In 2023 the Nauticapedia celebrated the 50th Anniversary of it’s original inception in 1973 (initially it was on 3" x 5" file cards). It has developed, expanded, digitized and enlarged in those ensuing years to what it is now online. If it was printed out it would fill more than 300,000 pages!

My special thanks to our volunteer IT adviser, John Eyre, who (since 2021) has modernized, simplified and improved the update process for the databases into semi–automated processes. His participation has been vital to keeping the Nauticapedia available to our netizens.

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Working Vessel Conversions

  • By Dudley Dawson
  • Updated: July 26, 2010

warship converted to yacht

Converting Working Yachts

It seems like such a good idea—heck, I’ve even considered it myself—but converting a commercial working vessel into a yacht is fraught with innumerable opportunities for disaster. Many such attempts are undertaken, but most are abandoned after running short of money or patience, or both. Even if you follow through to launch and christening, you’re likely to end up with something that looks more like what it is—an old workboat—than a proper yacht. It’s too often a case of putting lipstick on a manatee, but there are exceptions.

In carrying out such a conversion, the first step is finding a suitable vessel. Boats in acceptable condition are usually too expensive, and affordable boats have been worked to within an inch of their lives. Avoid such craft and look instead for opportunities related to the economy or to the laws of supply and demand.

When the offshore oil industry took a serious extended hit in the mid-1980s, you could buy a surplus 100-foot crew boat in good condition, with four Detroit Diesel 12V71TI engines, for less than $100,000. That was 25 years ago, though, and there have been few if any similar situations since then. The recent recession offered opportunities, but yacht prices were hit as hard as working boats, so simply buying a yacht in reasonable condition was the better choice.

Let’s assume you find an acceptable boat at a good price. Chances are you’re going to spend a bundle removing the working gear and spartan interior and prepping it for renovation. That prep work can entail a lot of unexpected obstacles, including hidden damage or deferred maintenance. Worse, environmental mitigation can become a concern. Old boats sometimes carry a lot of lead paint and other chemicals that can add to your costs when you have to remove and dispose of them, and asbestos insulation was once commonplace on commercial vessels.

And then there are the four most expensive words in the universe: “While we’re at it….”

“While we’re at it, let’s rebuild the engines.” “While we’re at it, let’s add a cockpit.” “While we’re at it, let’s install zero-speed stabilizers, another generator, a bow thruster, a tender garage, bigger davits, teak decks….” You get the idea. Such add-ons can boost the cost past the point of starting from scratch and building a new yacht.

I can envision only two scenarios where I’d consider undertaking a conversion, and one isn’t really a conversion. The first is when the owner-tobe is an aficionado of a certain vessel type. I grew up with Chesapeake deadrise boats, and I love the narrow hull that runs so easily and comfortably in the shallow waters and light chop prevalent in that area. I’ve seen a couple of superb conversions, done so well that I searched earnestly for a project boat myself, but as noted previously, the good boats were costly and the affordable ones were unseaworthy. I also realized that the boat would not be suitable for many areas outside the Chesapeake. This would limit its usefulness and appeal if I tired of it, and the whole thing might end up as little more than an expensive labor of love.

The second scenario involves what is essentially a new-build project, starting with a workboat hull and deck built specifically for you, but finishing it out as a yacht. Again, you have to love the type you’re considering if going this route. You won’t save much, if anything, over a standard custom build, but if done right, you’ll end up with a Bristol yacht exactly to your liking.

If your heart is in such a project, go for it, but do it knowing it’s a route to a dream, not a way to save money. Do it right, so you and your family will be safe and comfortable, and so your chances of recovering at least a portion of your initial investment are better when resale time rolls around.

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Xbow Offshore Vessel

Our best candidate for a modern #exploreryacht conversion...

Powerful Diesel Electric propulsion with maximum speed of 17 knots. Easy conversion to a Hybrid propulsion system. 86m long 18.5m wide. Xbow from Ulstein Solutions.

71m Patrol Vessel

71m Patrol Vessel

Her sister was converted to the ENIGMA XK...

Ideal vessel for conversion. Her sister was converted with designer Martin Francis and won many awards and is known as a successful charter yacht. 

GBP 2,000,000

90m Luxury Cruise Ship

90m Luxury Cruise Ship

High quality cruise ship and a great candidate for conversion...

Top of the line luxurious expeditionary cruiser available now in South America. Sistership to the yacht conversion DUWABI that is based in Dubai. Configured to cruise at 16 knots and with latest upgrades done in 2019 she represents exceptional value. Conversions save you 50% of time and 50% of money compared to new buildings. With a top designer you can also add 50% to the value!

76m Passenger Ship

76m Passenger Ship

One of the last true classics...

A great coversion candidate is this day passenger ship with beautiful 'Cristina O' lines. She can cruise at max 18 knots with economic speed of 10 knots. She has already a sprinkler system fitted and could easily fit 20 cabins or more for a cruiser conversion or with less but large cabins sumptuous accommodation as a yacht.

70m Converted Superyacht

70m Converted Superyacht

fully refitted...

Fantastic 'go anywhere' opportunity! Very clever lay-out for up to 26 guests, featuring multiple tender and toys, as well as a professional Spa! Already with excellent charter reputation! Now with fresh paint and many new upgrades after extensive refit at ICON Yachts in Harlingen, Netherlands.

€24,500,000

63m Patrol Ship

63m Patrol Ship

Expedition Vessel ready to go...

Superb candidate for a yacht conversion or superyacht support vessel. Built for the Navy in 1995 and decommissioned recently she is now for sale from private owners due to change in plans. A unique opportunity! Vessel cruises at 18 knots!

55m Icebreaker Yacht Conversion

55m Icebreaker Yacht Conversion

Absolutely top vessel!

Great yacht conversion candidate! In excellent technical condition throughout. Diesel Electric propulsion system for smooth and silent sailing and with her 3 Maybach engine configuration perfect to use always a fuel efficient option. Go anywhere! Big volume for her size! Her ice bow is removable to her original shape!

48m Research Ship

48m Research Ship

A Research Ship in top condition throughout!

Another 'Go Anywhere' opportunity that has facilities for 25 persons and a full suite of electronics for research and survey, laboratory, cranes and a long range for extended projects in remote areas.

42m Superyacht

42m Superyacht

Quality built yacht in Dubai for sale

We are pleased to have been entrusted with the sale of this timeless designed Superyacht that is under the UAE flag.

She has been built in 2003 and was completely refitted in 2015 with brand new main engines installed. She also features 2 x 95 KW Onan generators and a powerful bowthruster. She was built by quality builders Oruçoğlu Shipyard in Turkey.

Luxury Cruise Catamaran for sale

Luxury Cruise Catamaran for sale

Already in paradise...

Built 1986 by SBF Engineering Australia, completely rebuilt/converted 1998 in Australia for Superyacht style cruising, refurbished/refitted 2012. Excellent for a mix of private and charter use. Almost identical cabins + master cabin. Excellent value. French Flag.

Aluminium Hull  length 36.5 / 33 m; beam 13 m; depth 3.74 m; draft 1.9 m  Aft hoistable platform down to the water The ship is not classed due to location but inspected every year by French Maritime Board, Restaurant for 40 guests on main deck Jacuzzi  on forward deck Cruise speed 12 knots Location: French Polynesia

Deep Ocean Explorer 'Pressure Drop' for Sale

Deep Ocean Explorer 'Pressure Drop' for Sale

...the ultimate!

The unique Deep Ocean Explorer System consisting of the T-Agos vessel 'DSSV Pressure Drop', the manned submersible 'Limiting Factor' and, HADAL exploration system are now offered for sale.

The vessels represent an investment of over $50 million. Owners are asking for sensible offers. Proposals for conversion to comfortable yacht are available. Delivery this summer.

$50,000,000

150m Presidential Yacht

150m Presidential Yacht

A real classic cruise ship...

As ex. Presidential Yacht, the ship was built in 1961, under the guidance of the Portuguese naval engineer Rogério d'Oliveira, to become an ocean liner with a classic profile and interiors. The ship's features include stabilization, new sprinkler system, galley, cabin bathrooms, bars, etc.  

83m Xbow Offshore Supplier

83m Xbow Offshore Supplier

Popular negative bow design giving superior performance in bad weather...

Brand new and fully operational offshore support vessel. Ideal candidate for a conversion to superyacht or yacht support vessel. We have mindblowing designs for this from Thierry Gaugain, the designer of the 'A' yachts. We also have DAMEN Axe bow vessels for conversion if preferred.

$19,000,000

73m Ice Breaker Salvage Tug

73m Ice Breaker Salvage Tug

Maybe the next 'Sherakhan'...

Ice breaking tug that was built by Wärtsila in Finland and in her current configuration has accommodation for 40. Holding full details here. Suitable for conversion to Polar Expedition Vessel! Pleased to receive your interest!

70m Gentleman Yacht from 1931

70m Gentleman Yacht from 1931

Rossy One (ex-Santa Maria del Mare) was originally built by Germany’s Krupp yard in 1931 as Argosy and has had a chequered history, variously serving the US Navy in WWII and then becoming a ferry in Italy. This 66 meter Superyacht was rebuilt as a luxury yacht in Italy to RINA class and her Luca Dini interior will sleep 10 guests in five cabins.

60m Expedition Ship

60m Expedition Ship

A real explorer...

Very strong vessel that was built and operated for the Canadian Coast Guard. The ship is ideal for Arctic/antarctic Expeditions or conversion to expeditionary cruiser or Exploreryacht, i.e. for Alaska/Greenland/Iceland/Spitzbergen adventure cruises. Ice strengthened hull!

53m Guard Vessel

53m Guard Vessel

North Sea Workhorse

These sturdy ships where used to be on station in the rough North Sea to bring pilots to their target cargo ships and guide them into port. This vessel was completely refurbished and upgraded. She has been used extensively as Class B guard vessel for various offshore wind farms and as chase vessel in oil & gas markets. Now without a mission and a buyer can take advantage of the situation. Great value at this low price and capable of cruising the world in safety and comfort.

43m Expedition Cruiser

43m Expedition Cruiser

This vessel is working as a tourist expedition ship in the Indian Ocean. Going to remote locations and exploring ocean diversity. She has just installed a brand new Yanmar engine and is certified for passenger operations. Not a yacht yet but a good candidate if you want to explore the world! Already in paradise...Seychelles.

40m North Sea Fishing Trawler

40m North Sea Fishing Trawler

Seaworthyness, value for money, go anywhere in this proven workhorse! Operates at 12 knots with 5500nm range! Great potential! Built 1980 Holland, 40m x 8m x 4.37m, gt/nt 373/111, Wartsila Main Engine with 2000 hp – built 1987, 2 generators Scania 109 hp each bowthruster 120 hp. Contact us for further details of this or other trawler conversion candidates. 

Jongert 2900s for sale in Turkey

Jongert 2900s for sale in Turkey

Fantastic global travels...

This Jongert 2900s is elegant, strong and reliable! Her current owner bought her in 2010, overhauled her in 2011 and has sailed around the world over 50,000 nm since! Now she’s for sale again including a set of new sails and lots of improvements and spare-parts. This is a truly advanced and pedigree yacht with a history of records and inspiring journeys. All systems on-board are new or overhauled, 3 generators, diesel heating, reverse aircon, etc.

80m DP2 Offshore Support Ship

80m DP2 Offshore Support Ship

Potential for a conversion with a bow like the NORD...

Many Offshore Vessels have a great potential to convert to Explorer Yachts. This one is a powerful example with a large moonpool that gives a feature to play with... A lot of ship for the money. Located in Greece.

98m Trimaran Conversion

98m Trimaran Conversion

Absolute unique vessel and great conversion candidate...

This ex.Navy ship has a unique appearance and with her single propulsion is not only fuel efficient but also achieves 20 knots. Designers often point out trimarans as the best performing ships with very little movement in the ship's centre. 

€10,000,000

55m Ice Breaker

55m Ice Breaker

our best candidate c/w Maybach engines...

At a very attractive price we can offer a very well kept ice breaker. Ideal candidate for conversion to superyacht or expeditionary cruiser. 'Ready to go' but needs cosmetics and safety equipment. At her current berth in Rotterdam she can undergo conversion work at very low cost for berthing! Experienced project management is locally available. Design studies already made for various applications.

72m Expedition Ship

72m Expedition Ship

72m Oceanic Research Ship. The vessel was converted and upgraded in 2016 with extensive works, including refurbishment of all accommodation and installation of a new crane. Vessel is in compliance with SPS code (Special Purpose Ship) in order to carry Industrial Personnel ( Special Personnel) up to 24. Can convert to an expeditionary cruiser with some additions to safety equipment.  

69m Yacht Conversion

69m Yacht Conversion

A very special project...!

As an ideal superyacht conversion candidate we can now offer an ex. NOAA - T-AGOS Diesel electric research/survey vessel (extremely quiet operation). New ice class from ABS! Go anywhere possibilities! The ship is in top condition and all technical installations are of highest quality and reliability. Dive expeditions in remote South Pacific, Alaska fishing, Mediterranean explorer or Antarctica adventures, anything is possible with this excellent platform! A rare opportunity that will win awards…

58m Patrol Vessel

58m Patrol Vessel

Ideal explorer with Ice 1A class

She is a former Forex patrol ship and has been replaced with a larger one. The ship is in excellent condition. A lot of potential!. A true 'go anywhere' ship cruising 12 knots to 15knots.

52m Research Vessel

52m Research Vessel

A small ship with a history...

The OCEAN STARR provides a broad range of scientific research capabilities with temperature-controlled aquaria and live specimen wells, walk-in freezer, dark room, data processing laboratory, and an underwater observation chamber in the bow and port side for studying fish behavior at sea. She has been used for many expeditions such as the ‘Mega Expedition’ with The Ocean Cleanup in August 2015 to observe the swirling Pacific garbage patch. A team of 15 international scientists was on board to develop techniques to remove the plastic from our oceans. Also last year she went to a whale research expedition to conduct a population survey of the Vaquita in the Upper Gulf of California, a species endemic to the region that is on the verge of extinction.

43m Dive Charter Yacht

43m Dive Charter Yacht

Great opportunity...

The vessel has done charter and research work with divers in the Red Sea. Due to the economic situation in Egypt the vessel is for sale by her European owner. Price was just reduced ! Full details available.   

36m Classic Yacht Conversion

36m Classic Yacht Conversion

converted offshore tug from 1941

The history of M/S NAVIGATOR relates to Danish maritime traditions and the Port of Copenhagen. The ship was originally built as a cable ship in 1941 according to the highest standards of the industrial area. Subsequently, in 1962 it was rebuilt as a training vessel for Danish merchant marine officers. 2005 to 2011 completely restored and converted. Owners revised their price to a low €1.35 mil.!

Catana 50 for sale in Portugal

Catana 50 for sale in Portugal

We have an owner version of the Catana 50 from 2007 for sale. The boat is equipped for global cruising in comfort and style. Please ask us for further details. Keen sellers.

Euro 700,000

We have many more on file please contact us with your ideas...

MailOnline US - news, sport, celebrity, science and health stories

  • Latest Headlines

warship converted to yacht

The $62m luxury yacht converted from a container ship: Huge cruiser can sail the harshest seas for up to 30 days at a time - and has room for 36 friends (and a helicopter)

  • Shackleton Superyachts & International Shipbuilders and Bannenberg & Rowell Design involved in project
  • It will have expansive interiors and deck space for large salons, dining and lounging areas to host your 36 guests
  • The hull is made of steel and the yacht is a shimmering white, which can top speeds of 15.4 knots, but coasts at 12
  • Construction for VARD 1-08 Kilkea will start this year, but no date has been set for  completion   

By Stacy Liberatore For Dailymail.com

Published: 18:35 EDT, 27 April 2016 | Updated: 10:04 EDT, 28 April 2016

View comments

Most billionaires purchase luxurious yachts to travel the Caribbean or Mediterranean, but a new design will take them anywhere in the world.

Dubbed VARD 1-08 Kilkea, this elegant yacht is based on the supply vessel platform that transports cargo to and from offshore oil rigs and platforms.

Two designers are working on transforming one of the supply vessel into a 268-foot cruiser that houses 36 guests, lasts 30 days at sea, is equipped with a helicopter pad and carries a price tag of $62 million.

Scroll down for video 

Dubbed VARD 1-08 Kilkea, this elegant yacht is based on the supply vessel platform that transports cargo to and from offshore oil rigs and platforms. Two designers are working on transforming one of the supply vessel into a 268-foot cruiser that houses 36 guests, lasts 30 days at sea, is equipped with a helicopter pad and carries a price tag of $62 million

Dubbed VARD 1-08 Kilkea, this elegant yacht is based on the supply vessel platform that transports cargo to and from offshore oil rigs and platforms. Two designers are working on transforming one of the supply vessel into a 268-foot cruiser that houses 36 guests, lasts 30 days at sea, is equipped with a helicopter pad and carries a price tag of $62 million

WHAT ARE KILKEA'S FEATURES?

This elegant yacht is based on the supply vessel platform that transports cargo to and from offshore oil rigs and platforms.

Two designers are working on transforming one of the supply vessel into a 268-foot cruiser that houses 36 guests, lasts 30 days at sea, is equipped with a helicopter pad and has a price tag of $62 million. 

It will have expansive interiors and deck space for large salons, dining and lounging area.

The hull is made of steel and the entire yacht is a shimmering white, which can top speeds of 15.4 knots, but coasts like a dream at 12.

‘Voyage to the remotest corners of the planet on board the 82 meter expedition yacht VARD 1-08 Kilkea,’ Edmiston & Company, yacht and super yacht makers who are involved in the project, shared on the website .

‘Robust and powerful, VARD 1- 08 KILKEA is bestowed with unrivalled seakeeping abilities, guaranteeing the upmost safety and comfort, and is capable of traversing into unchartered waters for 30 days at a time without stocking up on supplies.‘

The project comes from Shackleton Superyachts & International Shipbuilders Vard, and the elegant exterior was designed by Bannenberg & Rowell Design.

The creators say this superyacht is made for adventure seeks who also hold luxury and design dear to their hearts.

Kilkea will have expansive interiors and deck space for large salons, dining and lounging areas to host your 36 guests.

The VARD supply ships focus ‘on cargo capacity and excellent maneuvering capabilities combined with low fuel consumption’ and the Kilkea is no different.

It was developed with an eco-conscious mind-set to focus on low fuel consumption, claims its creators.

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Kilkea’s creators plan to start turning their blueprints into a reality this year, but there has been no date set for when it will on the market for the rich and famous to enjoy.

VARD 1- 08 KILKEA will be constructed out of a supply supply vessel platform (pictured), which is know for its low fuel consumption. The project comes from Shackleton Superyachts & International Shipbuilders Vard, and the elegant exterior was designed by Bannenberg & Rowell Design. The creators say this superyacht is made for adventure seeks who also hold luxury and design dear to their hearts

VARD 1- 08 KILKEA will be constructed out of a supply supply vessel platform (pictured), which is know for its low fuel consumption. The project comes from Shackleton Superyachts & International Shipbuilders Vard, and the elegant exterior was designed by Bannenberg & Rowell Design. The creators say this superyacht is made for adventure seeks who also hold luxury and design dear to their hearts

It takes a certain type of person to purchase a superyacht and the official term for this fortunate minority is an Ultra High Net Worth Individual.

This person is worth more than $30 million in net assets and as of last year, there are just 200,000 of them in the world.

But someone would need this kind of money in order to keep up with the costs associated with having a massive boat on the water.

Kilkea will have expansive interiors and deck space for large salons, dining and lounging areas to host your 36 guests. The plans show there will be multiple rooms and floors that are sure to make you and your guests feel right at home. It was developed with an eco-conscious mind-set to focus on low fuel consumption, claims its creators

Kilkea will have expansive interiors and deck space for large salons, dining and lounging areas to host your 36 guests. The plans show there will be multiple rooms and floors that are sure to make you and your guests feel right at home. It was developed with an eco-conscious mind-set to focus on low fuel consumption, claims its creators

The hull is made of steel and the entire yacht is a shimmering white, which can top speeds of 15.4 knots, but coasts like a dream at 12. Kilkea will allow owners to travel out to sea for 30 days before having to dock to gather more supplies. It has a helicopter pad attached to one of the decks

The hull is made of steel and the entire yacht is a shimmering white, which can top speeds of 15.4 knots, but coasts like a dream at 12. Kilkea will allow owners to travel out to sea for 30 days before having to dock to gather more supplies. It has a helicopter pad attached to one of the decks

Insurance company Towergate has compiled a study to find out the real cost of owning a superyacht and the figures are, for the average person, almost inconceivable. 

The firm revealed that 10 percent of the initial value of a superyacht is dished out for operating costs.

For example Roman Abramovich, owner of Chlease Footbal Club whose net worth is $7.8 billion, owns a 533-foot vessel with a missile defense system that cost the billionaire an astronomical $500 million that means $50 million a year.

Kilkea’s creators plan to start turning their blueprints into a reality this year, but there has been no date set for when it will on the market for the rich and famous to enjoy

Kilkea’s creators plan to start turning their blueprints into a reality this year, but there has been no date set for when it will on the market for the rich and famous to enjoy

The standard fuel usage for a 232-foot yacht is 500 liters an hour, meaning an average of $400,000 is spent on petrol every year per vessel.

The Value Added Tax (V.A.T) works out at 15 to 25 percent of the vessel's value while docking costs are an average $350,000 and $240,000 the standard for insurance sees the costs soar.

Add to that the expected $1 million per year for maintenance and repairs and the wages for an average $1.4 million for an on-board crew. 

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Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps gets powerful ships to confront adversaries well beyond the Persian Gulf

  • Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is building a fleet capable of operations on the high seas.
  • Its new missile corvettes are the most heavily armed combatant ships in its fleet.
  • It also converted a container carrier into a mothership for drones and special forces.

Insider Today

In the last three years, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy has commissioned hundreds of new vessels. Most are newer variants of the missile, rocket, and heavy machine-gun-clad speedboats that have long formed the backbone of the IRGCN's fleet, but beginning in 2022, the IRGCN began commissioning new classes of warships capable of operating on the high seas.

The vessels, four newly designed missile-armed catamaran corvettes and a container ship converted into an expeditionary sea base, bring new capabilities to the hardline force known for carrying out dangerous missions like attaching mines to ship hulls and hijacking merchant ships, giving Iran options to keep adversaries with advanced navies and air forces like Saudi Arabia and the US off-balance.

The largest ships ever to be commissioned into its service, the vessels enable the IRGCN to operate major surface combatants with long-range anti-ship and anti-air weapons, and also helps the historically littoral force to pursue a new mission only recently given to it: to project power into the high seas via expeditionary operations.

With a fourth catamaran missile corvette on the way and another container ship being converted into a drone carrier , the IRGCN's future fleet is gaining the larger ships and firepower needed to confront its adversaries beyond the Persian Gulf.

Catamaran missile corvettes

Founded in 1985, the IRGCN is the naval branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a paramilitary organization that operates as the ideological steward of Iran's revolution separate from the national military and which answers directly to Tehran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Numbering around 25,000 personnel, in 2007, the IRGCN was tasked with the security of the Persian Gulf, while Iran's national navy was given responsibility for the waters of the inland Caspian Sea, the Gulf of Oman, and beyond. Responsibility for the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth that dog-legs into the Persian Gulf, is shared between the two forces.

Since its inception, the IRGCN has employed an asymmetric doctrine that utilizes swarm and guerilla tactics with an emphasis on numbers, speed, mobility, and geographical advantages. They are known for provocative tactics that harass and threaten US Navy warships and civilian merchant vessels.

Operating in conjunction with Iran's land-based missiles and aircraft, the IRGCN can mount rapid sea assaults that exploit the islands and contours of Iran's coast. They rely extensively on hundreds of smaller vessels, namely fast attack craft (FAC) and fast inshore attack craft (FAIC) like those of the Tondar and Peykaap -classes which are armed with heavy machine guns, rockets, anti-ship missiles, and torpedoes to swarm enemy warships that may also be under attack from loitering munitions.

On September 5, 2022, the IRGCN diverged from its usual procurement practices when it commissioned the Shahid Soleimani , the lead ship of a new class of corvettes named after the leader of the IRGC's elite Quds Force who was killed in a US drone strike in 2020. At 213 feet long, 47 feet wide, and displacing an estimated 600 tons, it is one of the largest surface combatants the IRGCN has ever adopted.

The class utilizes a unique twin-hulled catamaran design. The design offers increased speed and stability at the expense of volume to carry more fuel or armaments. Though rare for frontline warships, some major navies do possess catamaran corvettes, including China, Russia, Taiwan, and Norway.

The IRGCN itself has been operating a single catamaran called the Shahid Nazeri since 2016. Despite being lightly armed, it has a record of harassing US vessels and civilian ships in the Persian Gulf.

But while Shahid Nazeri has few armaments, the Soleimani-class corvettes are the most heavily armed vessels in the IRGCN fleet, with an armament of 28 missiles, four 23mm Gatling guns (two in front of the bridge and two amidships), and one 30mm auto-cannon at the bow. Their formidable missile armaments are designed to threaten ships and aircraft.

Twenty-two of the missiles are stored in vertical launch systems (VLS), making the Soleimanis the first vessels in Iranian service with vertical launch capability. Believed to all house surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), they are arranged in two groups of eleven cells (eight small and three large) on the port and starboard sides just behind the bridge.

The six large cells are believed to house medium-range SAMs with a range of 92 miles each, while the sixteen small cells are believed to house short-range SAMs. Six box launchers amidships (three on each side) house anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs); likely four long-range ASCMs like the Ghadir or Noor, with ranges of 184 and 74 miles, respectively, and two short-range ASCMs like the Nasr, which has a range of 21 miles.

A helicopter deck is located just behind the box launchers and mast. Below it is a hangar reportedly large enough for three IRGCN FIACs; these fast inshore attack boats can be lowered into the water and picked up by an internal crane.

Made out of aluminum, Iranian officials have said that the ships have a range of 5,500 nautical miles. They have also said that the catamaran layout provides stability in rough seas and reduces the ships' radar cross-sections, making them harder to detect and track.

Three Soleimani-class corvettes, Shahid Soleimani, Shahid Hassan Bagheri, and Shahid Sayyad Shirazi, have been commissioned, while a fourth, Shahid Ra'is-Ali Delvari, is under construction. One month before the Hassan Bagheri and Sayyad Sirazi's commissioning last February, the IRGCN commissioned a new type of catamaran corvette, the Shahid Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis .

At 157 feet long, 39 feet wide, and displacing around 300 tons, it is smaller than the Shahid Soleimani-class and vastly different in appearance; it has no internal hangar capable of holding FAICs, no VLS cells, and the landing deck behind the bridge appears to be too small for helicopters, likely meaning it is intended for drones.

Its armament consists of 14 missiles; six ASCMs stored in box launchers at the stern and eight more ASCMs in two quad-tubed launchers on the port and starboard sides. It is also equipped with four 23mm Gatling guns and one 30mm auto-cannon.

Rear Admiral Alireza Tangsiri, the commander of the IRGCN, described the Shahid Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis as an "invisible boat" because of its catamaran design, and said it had a range of 2,300 miles.

Iran's IRGC published a video today of launching a ballistic missile from their forward base Shahid Mahdavi (converted container ship). pic.twitter.com/400Y8DYPlr — Mehdi H. (@mhmiranusa) February 13, 2024

Converted container ships

Though the newest, the catamaran corvettes are not the first sea-faring vessels the IRGCN has operated. The service has unofficially operated the cargo ships MV Saviz and the MV Behshad which, although officially registered as civilian vessels, are used as forward base and command ships to coordinate support for Houthi rebels in Yemen and to gather intelligence. The IRGC smuggles weapons to the Houthis and train them on their use.

In 2020, the IRGCN commissioned its first official sea-going vessel, the Shahid Roudaki . A converted roll-on/roll-off ship, the Shahid Roudaki is capable of carrying FAICs, drones, and military vehicles, and has space for a helicopter on its deck. It is armed with four ASCM box launchers and is believed to play an intelligence-gathering and support role.

Roudaki was briefly the largest ship in the IRGCN fleet until March 2023, when the Guard commissioned the Shahid Mahdavi , a converted container ship formerly known as Sarvin.

Related stories

At 787 feet long and 105 feet wide, Mahdavi's role is that of an expeditionary sea base and support/mothership. Equipped with a phased array radar and capable of carrying two helicopters, drones, loitering munitions like the Shahed-136, and FAICs, Mahdavi can also be used as a base from which IRGCN special forces can be inserted, and act as an intelligence-gathering vessel.

It is often compared to the US Navy's Lewis B. Puller-class expeditionary mobile bases, the lead ship of which has spent ample time in the Persian Gulf in view of Iranian forces.

Iran's navy has a similar vessel, the IRINS Makran, a forward base ship converted from an oil tanker. Commissioned in 2021, it has conducted multiple long-range voyages, including one that saw it circumnavigate the globe.

Mahdavi made international headlines in February when it launched two ballistic missiles from shipping containers placed on its deck as part of the Great Prophet 18 military exercise. Fired from the Gulf of Oman, the missiles were reported to have successfully hit mock targets in a desert in central Iran, demonstrating an at-sea launch capability for Iran's ballistic missiles.

The ship again made headlines in May when it sailed into the Southern Hemisphere, proving definitively that the IRGCN's reach now extends to the high seas .

Mahdavi will eventually be joined by another converted container ship, the Shahid Bagheri. Formerly known as the Perarin, the vessel has been undergoing conversion into a drone carrier for the IRGCN since 2021.

Measuring 787 feet long, the ship's width has been increased slightly with the addition of a cantilever deck on its port side. In 2023, a ski-jump ramp was fitted to the bow at an angle toward the starboard side in line with the cantilever deck, suggesting that wheeled drones will take off and land by avoiding the ship's towering superstructure that houses the bridge.

The makeup of Bagheri's future unmanned air wing remains a matter of speculation, and could include Shahed 171 and 191s (which are reverse-engineered Iranian copies of a captured American RQ-170 Sentinel), or Mohajer-6 and Shahed 129 drones, all of which can reportedly be used as reconnaissance and strike platforms.

The Bagheri's flight deck measures about 590 feet. The main recovery method for the drones will likely be an arrestor net or cable system of some type, though drones with short takeoff and landing ability may be able to conventionally land in calm seas.

Like the Mahdavi, Bagheri could also be used as a launch platform for loitering munitions like one-way attack drones. In addition, Rear Adm. Tangsiri has said that Bagheri will be able to store 30 FAICs below its deck.

An expanded mission

Altogether, the ships represent radical upgrades for the IRGCN — upgrades that the force has desperately wanted.

Though its asymmetric tactics and assets have successfully shot down an American drone, damaged and seized merchant ships, and taken American and British naval personnel prisoners, the last major combat engagement the IRGCN fought was a humiliating defeat for Iran, due in large part to hostile missile-equipped surface combatants and airpower.

Now sailing with large surface combatants armed with anti-air and anti-ship missiles, as well as new FIACs with better anti-ship and anti-air capabilities, the IRGCN poses a greater threat than it did in the 1980s.

"They know they are going on missions that require defense against aerial threats as well as surface threats, so they have to be prepared to defend against those threats by themselves," Farzin Nadimi, a senior defense fellow with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy told Insider.

But the IRGCN's new ships are not just intended for protecting the Persian Gulf — they are also for helping the IRGCN in its new mission: Projecting its power into the high seas.

Previously a mission reserved for Iran's national navy, this expansion of duty was ordered by Ayatollah Khamenei himself in 2020 . Though no direct reason has been given for the change, Iranian officials often talk about how the ships will better secure Iran's maritime interests.

"In general, they have portrayed their new mission as protecting the safety and security of Iran's vital maritime routes," Nadimi said.

But it's more likely that the IRGCN needs high-seas capability to better support the IRGC's goal of furthering Iran's strategic interests. Iran is a rival to Israel and Saudi Arabia and arms groups across the region like Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza, and the Houthis in Yemen.

While Iran's navy is involved in anti-piracy missions and international voyages to show its flag, it is the IRGC that is responsible for supporting Iran's proxy groups abroad. The Guard is also the frontline force for Iran's efforts in Syria.

In the event that its allies need supplies, the new catamaran corvettes "would be able to escort Iranian ships, tankers, or cargo ships that carry important cargoes," Nadimi said. The Mahdavi and Bagheri, converted container ships themselves, could even carry the cargo and deliver it directly.

And while the MV Saviz and MV Behshad have likely been unofficially aiding the Houthis, the fact that they are not officially Iranian military vessels exposes them to the possibility of being attacked in gray zone operations, as happened to Saviz in 2021 , when a suspected Israeli limpet mine attack crippled it, causing it to be towed back to Iran.

The IRGCN's new ships, by contrast, are official vessels of the regime. "By law they are sovereign territory of Iran," Nadimi said. "They have the threat of serious escalation behind them if Israel directly attacks them."

The ships can also serve Iran's possible tactical goals as well. As a mobile sea-based ballistic missile launch platform with a long range, the Mahdavi poses a particularly potent threat. An IRGCN surface group made up of the Soleimanis, Madhavi, and Bagheri may even be able to pose a threat to US bombers based in Diego Garcia, an island in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

If tensions in the region continue to escalate into a direct conflict with Israel, these ships could pose a big enough threat that they could become high-priority targets for Israeli submarines operating in the Red and Arabian seas.

With Bagheri finishing construction and a fourth Soleimani-class catamaran being built, the IRGCN's fleet is only expected to get larger as it embraces its new high-seas mission.

"Our oceangoing warships can be present in every location across the world, and when we can fire missiles from them, there is accordingly no safe spot for anyone intending to create insecurity for us," Tangsiri said after the successful missile launches from Mahdavi.

Benjamin Brimelow is a freelance journalist covering international military and defense issues. He holds a master's degree in Global Affairs with a concentration in international security from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. His work has appeared in Business Insider and the Modern War Institute at West Point.

Watch: How the Iranian-backed Houthi militia compares to the US-led task force in the Red Sea

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damen supply ship conversion Project Cassius

61m supply ship conversion project Cassius unveiled

Related articles.

A 61 metre Damen commercial shipping vessel named Shelf Express has been reimagined as a luxury world explorer by Swedish designer Dennis Ingemansson.

Named Cassius, the ship has been redesigned as a "beautiful yet rugged explorer" and is born from a collaboration between C-Quest Yachts, Dennis Ingemansson and Njord by Bergman Design House.

Ingemansson was responsible for the exterior redesign of the Damen vessel and has transformed the commercial supply ship into a "genuine world explorer yacht". Key changes include the addition of two new decks - one for guest enjoyment and another to serve as a helicopter landing pad - resulting in a total of 1,500GT.

Accommodation is for 12 guests and a crew of 16 with extensive storage for toys and tenders. Below deck, guests will find a spa, a cinema and a moon pool serving a submarine. Meanwhile, Project Cassius is set to have a cruising speed of 10 knots and a range of 12,000 nautical miles.

Njord by Bergman Design House created the interior concept for Cassius using a "sustainable design strategy" to minimise the environmental impact of its build. According to the design house, the interior is "masculine yet feminine" and makes use of sustainable woods and marbles punctuated by flashes of gold.

"We follow nature not trends,” says Albin Berglund, co-founder of Bergman Interiors. “Nature is wild and powerful, yet it needs to be preserved. Every element has been thorough in each detail, sourcing and traceability." 

For example, Njord by Bergman Design House worked with Oscar Ono to create the wood flooring throughout. "La Maison Oscar Ono always pays attention to preserving a precious link with nature, sustainability and traditional craftsmanship," adds Berglund.

No stranger to explorer yacht design, in 2016 Dennis Ingemansson teamed up with Pendennis on a 50 metre explorer concept named Arctic Sun .

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Frugal Traveler

Affordable Island-Hopping in Croatia? What Could Go Wrong?

A 30-percent-off Black Friday sale on a cruise aboard a yacht meant off-season sailing and being prepared for the unexpected.

A view from a hill of a red-roofed town surrounding a harbor. In the foreground, the ruins of an ancient fortification wall follow the downward slope of a steep hill. And in the distance, beyond the harbor with its numerous small boats, is a string of small green islands.

By Elaine Glusac

Elaine Glusac is the Frugal Traveler columnist, focusing on budget-friendly tips and journeys.

As Croatians tell the story , the Greek hero Odysseus was shipwrecked and held captive on the Croatian island of Mljet. Visiting in May, I and six other sailors embraced the myth when the motor on our 54-foot yacht failed.

“Remember, Odysseus spent seven years on Mljet,” said Ivan Ljubovic, our captain. “We can do two nights.”

In the scheme of things, the clogged fuel filter that impeded our progress on a seven-night, island-hopping cruise from Split to Dubrovnik on a yacht — which the passengers helped sail — was minor. Though an engine, even on a sailboat, is vital for docking and sticking to schedules on becalmed days, most of my shipmates agreed that getting waylaid in a village with Roman ruins on a turquoise bay was an acceptable fate.

I had been resigned to what were, in my mind, worse inconveniences when I had signed up for the trip last November. Then, the tour operator G Adventures had put several trips on sale over the Black Friday weekend. Its best deals were in the off-season, which meant potentially chilly weather and closed restaurants and attractions. But leaving in late April for seven nights of island hopping at roughly $1,300 — after a 30 percent discount — was too tempting to pass up.

My cousin Kim agreed and we made plans to pack rain gear and meet in Split to test the budget waters.

‘Everything between is an adventure’

Little about the itinerary was published pre-departure and none of it was firm.

“Split and Dubrovnik are fixed,” said the captain, who would pilot the ship solo and double as our guide, on our first day. “Everything between is an adventure.”

It started with the Sauturnes, a handsome Kufner yacht with four snug guest cabins, four economical bathrooms where the retractable faucet doubled as a shower spigot, and a spacious galley. Our “crew,” a mix of Australians and Americans ranging from 18 to 75 — all of whom had also jumped on the promotional pricing — spent most of the time atop the boat, where foam mattresses invited sunbathing and a cockpit awning provided shade.

The weather, which turned out to be sunny and comfortably cool, was not our greatest concern. The G Adventures website had mentioned well-known islands, including beachy Brac and Vis , which played a convincing Greek idyll in the movie “Mamma Mia 2.” But since many places would be closed in the shoulder season, we would proceed, according to the captain, based on the dictates of the weather and conditions on shore.

Meals were not included, which meant finding open restaurants was critical. For shipboard breakfasts and lunches, we each chipped in 50 euros (about $54) for communal groceries, which we shopped for at local markets. At night, we would dine at restaurants; G Adventures advised budgeting $250 to $325 for the week, which was accurate, though we often splurged on Croatian wine (a carafe of house red averaged $15).

Small ports

After the frenzy of grocery shopping and moving into the bunk-bedded cabin Kim and I shared, we experienced the Zen of sailing as the ship set off on a sunny morning for 43-mile-long Hvar , the longest and purportedly sunniest island in Croatia.

Neighboring islands drifted past as the wind patterned the sea in shifting ripples and ruffles. A flock of shearwaters soared by at eye level.

Within a few hours, the ridgelines of steep Hvar appeared, revealing terraced lavender fields and olive orchards. Motoring down a long, narrow inlet, we arrived in Stari Grad , a village of stone homes with terra cotta roof tiles, as travelers had since 384 B.C., when Greek sailors from the island of Paros settled here.

Our mooring provided a front-row view of fishing boats and cafes animating the waterfront. Stari Grad’s attractions, including the Greek ruins of Faros and a 17th-century Venetian cathedral, had yet to open for the season, but we relished exploring the old quarter’s narrow lanes and deserted plazas.

From the waterfront, an aerobic 20-minute hike up a steep hill crowned by a giant white cross offered views over Stari Grad and the plains beyond, a UNESCO World Heritage Site of fourth-century agricultural fields, with stone walls circumscribing grapevines and olive orchards.

That evening, we visited them to reach Konoba Kokot , a farm restaurant that specializes in “peka,” a kind of barbecue in which meat cooks under an iron lid piled with hot coals. The family that runs it opened in the preseason, welcoming us with bracing shots of rakija, a local herbal liquor. At a long table under an arbor, we gorged on homemade goat cheese, wild boar pate and, from the hearth, roast lamb, veal and octopus with limitless jugs of red and white wine for 35 euros a person.

Starry nights

Small ships are unmatched at getting into small ports, but a yacht trip is also a little like camping, starting most mornings with D.I.Y. instant coffee. Marinas offered free bathhouses with showers.

Cool temperatures apparently deterred the celebrity-filled mega yachts, which are known to anchor in the town of Hvar on the south shore of Hvar island. Our captain declared it the “Mykonos of Croatia” as we motored by the port bustling with visitors carrying shopping bags and cones of gelato.

With clear weather in the forecast, we moored in an undeveloped cove east of town. The mooring belonged to the owners of Moli Onte restaurant, who ferried us to land on a motorized dingy, allowing us enough time before dinner to visit the fortress above Hvar and have an Ozujsko beer on St. Stephens Square, the largest in the region of Dalmatia.

Back on board, with no artificial light to wash out the night sky, we hit the upper deck for stargazing. As my shipmates peeled off to bed, I grabbed a blanket and beanie and bedded down under the stars for the evolving show, periodically waking to catch the drama of the moon rising, reflected in the still water.

Little Dubrovnik

Fingers of gray rock reached down to meet sloping vineyards along Hvar’s south coast as we departed for its neighbor, Korcula. On our longest day of sailing, five hours, I welcomed the chance to play first mate, manning the lines on the jib sail.

To break up the trip, Captain Ljubovic navigated to a quiet cove off the Peljesac Peninsula where the Caribbean-blue waters, cloudless sky and sandy bottom convinced us to jump in despite numbing sea temperatures.

Fifteenth-century walls ring the historic center of Korcula, earning it the nickname “Little Dubrovnik.” Past the stone gates carved with a winged lion representing the empire of Venice, which controlled much of the Adriatic after the 13th century, narrow alleys led to ornate churches and mansions. There was no better history trip than getting lost in the web of pedestrian lanes. Or so we told ourselves as we passed the purported home of Marco Polo, still closed preseason.

Along the seafront walls, restaurants served pizza and seafood under lights strung in the pines and we caught sunset from a former turret, now converted into Massimo Cocktail Bar , which requires patrons to climb a ladder to the rooftop, a caution against second rounds.

The most romantic port of the trip was also the rowdiest, at least in the marina, which was hosting a Polish sailing regatta. When I headed for the showers at 6 a.m. the next morning, I found a group still cheerfully dancing atop a yacht littered in empty booze bottles and crushed potato chips.

Marooned on Mljet

We left Korcula on strong 20-knot “jugo” or south winds and Captain Ljubovic unleashed the sails, saying “You paid for a sailing vacation, not a motorboat.”

As we tacked back and forth toward Mljet , the boat heeled at a queasy angle and we took face shots of ocean spray.

On Mljet, where the western end of the island is home to Mljet National Park , we rented bikes (10 euros) to ride a lung-busting route over the park’s mountain spine. On the other side, we cycled around a pair of inland lakes and took a boat trip to a 12th-century monastery built on an island in one of them (park admission, 15 euros).

Docked in the still sleepy town of Polace, we heard tales of high season, when up to 100 yachts anchor in the bay and members of the band U2 were once seen biking in the park. After a brief shower, the town glimmered at sunset and the restaurant Stella Maris welcomed us with grilled sea bass (25 euros) and prawns (20 euros).

“I’m so glad I chose this time, because I don’t do crowds,” said my shipmate Nova Hey, 46, of Sydney, who was traveling with her 18-year-old daughter.

In the morning, I had the trail to the peak of Montokuc to myself. The roughly three-mile round-trip hike reached one of the highest points on the island, a rocky knob with stunning panoramas shared by a family of feral goats.

Not long thereafter, the Sauternes’ engine refused to turn over, stranding us in a national park on a remote island with no mechanics.

Teeming Dubrovnik

The next morning, Captain Ljubovic jimmied a fix but it didn’t last long and the engine died again, this time just opposite a cave on Mljet that we joked had to be the refuge of Odysseus.

After a morning of light sailing, a mechanic from the mainland arrived by speedboat and within an hour we were motoring toward the Franjo Tudman Bridge that spans the inlet to the Dubrovnik marina where hot showers awaited.

“Dubrovnik is the most expensive city in Croatia,” said Captain Ljubovic as we spent the last of our pooled money, 70 euros, hiring a taxi van to get us to and from the walled heart of the ancient city about 15 minutes away.

With two large cruise ships in port, Dubrovnik was teeming with visitors and the price to climb the stone walls that encircle the city was a sticker-shocking 35 euros. (In the ensuing two days Kim and I would spend post-cruise in the city, we bought the more comprehensive Dubrovnik Pass for 35 euros that included admission to the walls as well as several museums and public bus transportation.)

On our final evening, we measured the lack of crowds versus closed museums; perfect hiking weather versus swim-inviting water; ample dock space versus more restaurant choices — and felt we’d come out ahead sailing in the bargain season.

Follow New York Times Travel on Instagram and sign up for our weekly Travel Dispatch newsletter to get expert tips on traveling smarter and inspiration for your next vacation. Dreaming up a future getaway or just armchair traveling? Check out our 52 Places to Go in 2024 .

Open Up Your World

Considering a trip, or just some armchair traveling here are some ideas..

52 Places:  Why do we travel? For food, culture, adventure, natural beauty? Our 2024 list has all those elements, and more .

London:  A writer used Camille Pissarro’s paintings of suburban London and a “lost” railway as a lens for exploring the city’s history  — and settling an arcane mystery.

Dublin,:  While the Irish capital has become a more international hub, locals have made efforts to ensure what makes the city unique — its spirited personality and famed hospitality  — doesn’t get entirely swallowed up.

Norway:  Can A.I. devise a bucket-list vacation to the Scandinavian nation that checks all the boxes: culture, nature, hotels and transportation? We put three virtual assistants to the test .

The Berkshires:  A writer shares his favorite ways to experience the often-overlooked  Housatonic River in western Massachusetts.

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