'My Other Yacht Is a Support-Yacht'
The arms race in mega-yachts has reached a new level, with the launch of the "mega support-yacht."
Support yachts are for people who have outgrown their mega-yachts and need more space for their helicopters, speedboats, launches and submarines. The support yacht acts as a floating garage, trailing alongside the main yacht with all of the owner's oversized "toys."
While support yachts have been around for a while, the yacht-maker Amels has launched the Rolls Royce of support yachts – the SEA AXE 6711, a gleaming 220-feet ship that can hold a mega-chopper, loads of speedboats, a submarine and all the scuba gear, jet skis and floaties an oligarch or sheikh could ever want.
Amels is mum on the price. But they've recently sold two, and the company says interest is strong from other buyers. (Read more: Steve Jobs's Yacht Launches Posthumously
Amels marketing chief Victor Caminada said that the main appeal of a support yacht is its speed and space. By offloading the toys and chopper pads to the secondary vessel, owners can free up more space on their main yachts for Jacuzzis,wet bars and bedroom suites.
Take the helicopter condundrum, for example. Landing a helicopter on a mega-yacht can be highly disruptive to the owners and guests,Caminada said.
"You have to get all the passengers inside, take in all the pillows, get the crew to a fire-safety area," he said. With a support yacht nearby, "you can land on the support yacht and free the mother ship of all that hassle and interruption."
Or take speedboats. Mega-yachts need tenders, the speedboats used to ferry passengers to and from the shore. Today's tenders have become status symbols unto themselves. But storing a 40-foot luxury speedboat on board can take up huge amount of space – not to mention the crane that's needed to lift them to and from the water.
Storing them on a support yacht allows the yacht owner to use bigger and more elaborate tenders – like the American-made J-Craft boats that have become increasingly popular with the super-rich.
"It's about when you pull up to the docks, who has the nicest tender," said Caminada. (Read more: Russian Billionaire Builds Largest Sailing Yacht)
The SEA AXE is also faster than most mega-yachts – due in part to its ax-like hull. It has a top speed of 20 knots to 25 knots and it can move faster than the mother yacht. That allows owners to leave the support boat behind to load and unload tenders, or race ahead to prepare for the next stop.
And with its yacht-worthy paint job and styling, SEA AXE fits well with the look of a mega-yacht.
"It's like a pimped out pick-up truck," Caminada said. "It's not like an ugly duck trailing along. It looks good."