Meet Project Phoenix, a Supply Ship transformed into a Luxury Explorer – Robb Report
Few boats live up to their names like Project Phoenix. Like the mythical bird, this superyacht is reborn from the ashes of its humble trading ship past and may soon become a modern explorer’s yacht. Extreme developments like these are becoming more and more attractive to homeowners, as many shipyards are now on hold for new construction for the next three to four years.
Originally built by EJ Smit & Zoon in 1968 to lay cables in the North Sea, the ship is in fact ready for her second conversion. In the 1990s, it became the 173 foot Sir Arthur J, a classic but terribly dated superyacht that has served several owners for almost 30 years. Now, having been brought down to a bareboat at the ICT shipyard in Turkey, the Phoenix Concept awaits the right owner for what could be the most extreme metamorphosis in yachting.
The exterior and interior newly imagined by Omega Architects are nothing like Sir Arthur Jthe old look of (below), but more like forward-looking explorer designs. Yacht company Ocean Independence is presenting the project as a refit opportunity, but one that is on steroids.
“Since it was built to lay cables in the rough North Sea, it is stronger than a typical yacht,” said Eel Kant, CEO of the ICT shipyard. Robb Report. “Her thick steel hull is well suited to ice cruising, and she can carry a lot of toys on board, including a submarine up front. What’s also optimal is that a potential owner could save around a year compared to a new build, thanks to the proven hull.
Phoenix is expected to have a range of 11,000 nautical miles, with the ability to fully customize the entire yacht. “The renewed engines are already in place, as are some of the original machines, but the vision is to update the boat with the latest equipment to create a modern explorer with a classic hull,” says Kant.
For Frank Laupman of Omega Architects, Project Phoenix represents the second roll of the dice with this particular ship. Six years ago, Laupman was approached by the previous owners to transform her into a trawler style yacht. Family challenges sank these plans and Sir Arthur J fell into disrepair. ICT saw it as an opportunity for redevelopment and reconstruction.
Two years ago ICT completed the refit of a John Bannenberg designed Feadship, which has as much pedigree as any classic yacht. “It was the start of a deliberate campaign to enter the refit market,” Kant explains. “A lot is possible when you buy an existing hull like Project Phoenix, but it takes vision. We cleaned the hull to showcase the massive 850 GT volume and Frank Laupman came up with a design. “
The stern of the original canoe on Sir Arthur JThe hull has been redesigned by Laupman to add a beach club and swim platform. This extended the length to 187 feet. A mid-tilt forward superstructure provides a more conventional explorer profile and frees up room on the aft deck to include a pool and space for a 30-foot tender. The bow has been raised to accommodate two smaller tenders on the foredeck.
“One of the key elements of this build is the time saving it offers an owner,” said Peter Hürzeler, Managing Partner of Ocean Independence. Robb Report.
Keen to reference the legacy of the Phoenix Project while incorporating a modern twist, Laupman kept the original windows and added a few larger windows to the superstructure. “The boat can carry an extra dinghy over your typical 175ft, which will suit owners who like to dock their yacht and explore the coast,” said Laupman. Robb Report. “I wanted to make it look like evergreen foliage. So she has a classic hull with a hull plating to elevate the bow and we’ve designed a new wheelhouse.
Laupman went all out for the interior design, creating a 27,000 square foot space. main deck of ft. entirely for the owner. This deck features the owner’s cabin with a private sundeck and large bathroom, as well as space for a movie theater and private decks at both ends of the boat. There are also five cabins on the lower deck. Considering this is an exploration yacht, an optional touch-and-go helipad on the foredeck makes sense. The interior is defined by contrasting elements, including glossy veneers alongside soft leathers and brass accents, with white and black marble mingling with herringbone European oak flooring.
Hürzeler believes Phoenix is the perfect fit for a busy homeowner who wants a customizable build. “The stocks are disappearing,” he says. “A proven platform in Phoenix Project The size range offers the comfort of a large yacht, but it’s not that large to keep you away from smaller ports. She will do very well in bad weather, with the characteristics of an owner who wants to explore.
Here are some more images of the yacht after it emerged from the flames.