It was supposed to be a yacht fit for a king, complete with blue blood coursing through its British veins, but Vitruvius Yachts’ design never saw the light of the day. Until now. The London-based studio has revealed confidential drawings of its 125m flagship vessel, which was on track to be commissioned by the British Government as a replacement for the former Royal Yacht Britannia. After being shortlisted for the design competition headed by defence secretary Ben Wallace, the proposal was unceremoniously scrapped, but the Vitruvius Yachts design lives on.
Revealing its proposal in full, Vitruvius has given us a sneak peek at how the yacht would have combined sustainable operations with the prestige we’ve come to expect from the Royal Family. The design of the yacht comes from Team FestivAl, a collaboration between Vitruvius Yachts and Zaha Hadid Architects, along with aluminium ship and yacht specialists Ocea. One of the key focus areas while designing the ship was sustainability, with the design showcasing a zero-carbon vessel, an interior having recyclable materials and a flexible deck that can switch between an exhibition showcase and a floating embassy.
Needless to say, you can’t miss the LED-tile Union Jack ribbon on the side (which is projected onto the water at night) and the theme of British ingenuity is evident throughout. Most notably, the streamlined shape gives most automakers a run for their money in terms of drag, with a low-drag coefficient of just 0.28. The design also includes recycled aluminium which is lighter than steel and reduces emissions.
Inside, the Union flag design motif is also repeated extensively while the central atrium shows wall-to-wall displays which show various presentations of the vessel to UK’s maritime technology and culture. The wraparound glass of the atrium brings in a sense of space and includes flexibility to host national showcases to state dinners. This includes a large aft dining room with movable partitions. For trade show demonstrations, there is a modular mission bay in the aft end of the vessel and it can also be used for medical facilities or a science lab.
“To design a vessel that will become a benchmark in sustainability as well as demonstrating British excellence and heritage for current and future generations, while also being a symbol of inclusion and diversity, was an enormous challenge,” said Philippe Briand, yacht designer, Vitruvius yachts. “The nature and intensity of the project kept me focused but also filled me with pride, not just in the design process itself but for what the flagship stands for.”
The national flagship design has an energy-agnostic propulsion system based on efficient pod drives which can also enable geostationary position keeping without damaging sensitive sea beds with an anchor. Power for the pod drives would come from a large battery bank that could be charged via shore power or onboard generators, initially using renewable diesel/biofuel but allowing for alternative energy sources now and in the future including green hydrogen fuel cells and onboard harvest.