At the beginning of February this year, global news agencies made headlines for the planned partial and temporary demolition of the historic De Hef bridge in Rotterdam, specifically to allow the newly built superyacht of a famous US billionaire to come out of the shipyard to sea.
However, numerous media – both in Poland and abroad – failed to notice an interesting fact for Polish audiences: engineers and shipbuilders from Poland also contributed to the construction of Jeff Bezos’ superyacht.
There is at least one component from Poland. In terms of weight or cubic capacity, it is not a big part of the whole boat’s construction. Still, it is an important element in determining the luxury private vessel’s architectural character and appearance.
Gdansk-based Aluship Technology built and delivered to a Dutch shipyard last year the aluminium superstructure, including the wheelhouse (bridge) of superyacht construction symbol Y721. The company also developed a detailed structural and working design.
It is worth mentioning that the yacht order from the Oceanco shipyard took into account the construction costs resulting from the need to dismantle the bridge, accepted by the client. This is a disused bridge whose span is always raised and permanently open to water traffic. There is another route from the shipyard to the sea via a different channel, but two active bridges of similar design and operation, including one on the highway.
News of the planned “stripping” of the bridge has been widely circulating in the world media since 2 February. However, as reported by AFP on 4 February, the city of Rotterdam – contrary to earlier reports – hadn’t yet decided whether to allow the dismantling of the bridge.
As reported by local Dutch media – Rotterdam authorities have not received a formal request for permission to temporarily dismantle the historic bridge to allow the superyacht built for Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to pass through.
The mayor denied any decision had been made a day after a municipality spokesman told AFP that officials had granted the shipyard’s request to remove the middle section (span) of the iconic Koningshaven bridge, prompting widespread criticism on social media, among others.
The €430m ($485m) large superyacht built by the Oceanco shipyard headquartered in Alblasserdam near Rotterdam is, with its three masts up to 90m high, too big to pass under the bridge, which dated from 1878 and was rebuilt after being bombed by the Nazis in 1940 during World War II.
– I find this confusion quite peculiar. No decision has been taken yet, not even an application for permission has been made” – Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb, quoted by Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad, said.
– The municipality will decide once the permit has been applied for and after assessing the consequences. It includes possible damage to the bridge and – in that case – Mr Bezos paying the costs. The facts are important. I want to know them first – the mayor told the Dutch daily.
His comments made in Colombia, where he was visiting, were confirmed by his spokesman to the Dutch news agency ANP.
Those Rotterdammers who find no understanding for the plans to partially dismantle the Hef bridge in Koningshaven to allow Bezos’s yacht to pass do not stop at expressing their disapproval, for example, in street polls conducted by the media.
Already 1,700 people have pledged to take part, and a further 6,500 have registered initial interest in the event, set up on the Facebook platform by Pablo Strörmann, which is scheduled for 1 June.
“An appeal to all Rotterdammers: take a box of (rotten) eggs and let’s throw them en masse at Jeff’s superyacht as it crosses the Hef Bridge in Rotterdam. Rotterdam was rebuilt from the rubble by Rotterdammers, and we are not going to tear it down just for a phallic symbol of a megalomaniacal billionaire. Not without a fight!” – Pablo Strörmann appealed.
Bezos’ superyacht – a three-masted schooner – is set to become the world’s largest yacht, as well as the longest yacht yet built in the Netherlands, when it goes into service, expected this year, according to some sources. The vessel will be about 20m longer than the largest sailing superyacht to date, the Black Pearl, built at the Oceanco shipyard. It will also be one of three sailing superyachts of 100m or more in length. According to some market observers, the boat is expected to be similar to the 93m Eos vessel owned by Barry Diller.
In addition to the yacht itself, Jeff Bezos has also ordered a support vessel (construction number YS7512) in the Damen Yachting shipyard. This support vessel, 75 metres long and with a capacity of 1,900 tonnes, and 45 places for the crew, service and guests, is to accompany the ‘main’ vessel in case technical assistance is required, in line with the trend in recent years of moving motorboats and all water sports ‘toys’ from superyachts onto accompanying support vessels. In addition, a relatively large helicopter is stationed in a hangar on Bezos’ superyacht support vessel.
After transforming online bookstore Amazon into global retail and mail-order giant, Jeff Bezos, 57, is one of the richest men globally. Bezos’ wealth (including the value of his companies) is estimated at around $190bn. Some sources have reported that his superyacht Flying Fox is also owned by him, but Amazon representatives have denied this information.