Yacht building in Istanbul | SuperYacht timetables


Written by Alexander Griffiths

Istanbul is a hive of activity on the shipbuilding front – and it’s getting more and more voracious. As we discovered in The State of Yachting 2022of the 320 shipyards that have delivered one or more superyachts over the past 10 years, more than 25% of them were Turkish. Shipbuilding activities are widespread throughout the country: Bodrum, for its part, located on the Mediterranean coast is very well hammered and squeezed with the traditional construction of schooners. Antalya, also on the south coast, is where Bering and Naval Yachts call home. The lion’s share of superyachts, however, originated in the great metropolis of Istanbul itself.

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While Turkey has staked a major claim in shipbuilding over the years, average production per meter has traditionally been significantly lower than the rest of the world. It seems that times are changing and Turkish builders are in full swing. It was refreshing to hear from several top builders that expansion plans are being rolled out and business is booming. Hull of yacht Bilgin 263 NB78 arriving at West Istanbul Marina for outfittingPhoto: Bilgin YachtsBilgin Yachts has gone from strength to strength since introducing the first hull of its Bilgin 263 series Sevannathen called Tatyanaat the Monaco Yacht Show 2021. Hulls two and three of the 80m series are under construction, both also designed in a collaboration between Unique Yacht Design and H2 Yacht Design – however, the similarities end there. Cruise on the yacht TatianaPhoto: Bilgin YachtsTatiana yacht beach clubPhoto: Bilgin YachtsOn a recent visit, we were offered a glimpse of the second hull, Leonawhich Bilgin currently outfits for Monaco 2022, and her interior design is night and day compared to her sistership. Leona is striking from the first glance, thanks to a rich burgundy paint applied to its hull. The interior is an opulent dream – but under strict embargo, so we’ll have to wait for Monaco for the big reveal. Yacht Building at Bilgin YachtsPhoto: Justin RatcliffeBilgin 263/I under constructionPhoto: Justin RatcliffeThe Istanbul-based shipyard has three more superyachts under construction, including a revised version of the 263 series, which will be around 2,000 GT and 86 meters long. Unique Yacht Design handled the exterior lines of this next-generation 263 and would have incorporated more sophistication and more glass into the design. In anticipation of even larger projects in the imminent future, Bilgin is expanding its hull construction plant in Yalova to accommodate vessels up to 130 meters.

Across the city from Tuzla, family-owned Mengi Yay Yachts is also rolling out major expansion plans for the already sprawling facility. Mengi Yay is currently building eight yachts between 39 and 53 meters in length – the largest being a 53 meter motor yacht and the closest to delivery is the 47.3 meter life, being geared up – and secured signings for two new projects. But with these expansions, Mengi Yay will increase its production, while maintaining its commitment to completing projects in just 24 months.

Mengi Yay most certainly carries the flag of dynamism because amidst this growth is an unwavering commitment to innovation. Ramazan Mengi, Project Engineer at Mengi Yay Yachts, has big plans for the yard and has taken the first steps in developing the first self-contained yacht to come out of Turkey.

Lily: On board: Mengi Yay La Vie’s 47m motor yacht La Vie yacht stairs Deck of the yacht La Vie  The technology is expected to be “workshop ready” in seven years and can be installed on all current and future Mengi Yay yachts. But while the yard has its sights firmly set on the future of yacht building and development, it has not lost touch with tradition and has dedicated teams capable of building vessels from aluminium, steel and even wood – I’ve been lucky enough to board a 43m steel and aluminum motor yacht under construction, and the quality is astounding.
Turquoise Yachts company photoPhoto: turquoise yachtsTurquoise Yachts, arguably the most famous Turkish shipyard in the superyacht sector, is full of orders and it’s no wonder. The shipyard has more than fifty years of expertise to its credit and has delivered breathtaking projects. A few notable vessels in its fleet are the iconic 72.6 meter superyacht Quantum of Comfortand the era-defining 77-meter superyacht Gobeing one of the yachts that bucked the traditional design trend with her playful style and bold paint job. GO yacht exteriorPhoto: Guillaume PlissonA testament to its class, Turquoise Yachts has not one but two shipyards: one in Kocaeli which can accommodate projects up to 160 meters in length, and the other in Pendik. At first, Turquoise Yachts is underway with its future flagship superyacht, the 87-meter motor yacht Salethe 79 meters Torothe 76.25 meters Arrowand the 51 meter sailboat Rainbow II. Vento yacht renderingMeanwhile, in Pendik, the 75-meter infinity joke and the 53 meters Jewelry are under construction. The yard could be at capacity; however, it is still welcoming orders and has scheduled 2026 as the earliest possible delivery date.

Lily: Turquoise Yachts’ brand new 76m Arrow project sold and under construction RMK marine facilities The largest operation in Tuzla most likely belongs to RMK Marine, as the shipyard is full of activities on the yachting, trading and special activities front. Quite simply, the operation is massive and the talent pool that RMK Marine has on hand is phenomenal. Özgür Numan, Director of the Yacht Department at RMK Marine Shipyard, has expressed a strong interest in fully utilizing its resources and advancing in the broader segment of the yacht market. “We want to build what our competitors can’t,” Numan said.

Currently, RMK Marine has three motor yachts under construction; the 36.82 meter Vripack designed seven seas and the 65-meter Ice Class Explorer ER65 have both been sold. While the 49.99 meter Hot Lab designed Ram is built on speculation and is on the market. But the yard is looking to secure even bigger projects; it even has two projects above 90 meters currently being tendered. ER65 yacht exterior design Lily: RMK Marine wins the construction of a 65m ER65 superyacht Polar Explorer

Özgür Numan hammered home RMK Marine’s commitment to quality; rather than being profit driven, RMK Marine aims to provide a product that an owner loves and enjoys (allowing profits to trickle down). “It’s rare to see a yacht built by RMK Marine on the market,” Numan said. RMK Marine’s fleet is diverse, but it’s HR Three which is closest to the shipyard’s current portfolio. The motor yacht is testament to Numan’s claim as she has only passed through the hands a number of times in her nearly 40 years on the water. Aries yacht concept from RMK Marine and Hot LabAries yacht concept from RMK Marine and Hot LabLily: RMK and Hot Lab unveil 50m Aries superyacht now under construction

Dunya Yachts is another strong superyacht builder based in Tuzla and in business for nearly 40 years now. Dunya Yachts shipyardThe shipyard claimed fame in 2013 with the delivery of the 72 meter superyacht Axiom, which features an exterior design by Sterling/Scott and an interior by Alberto Pinto. What may have gone a little unnoticed at Dunya is how prolific the yard is when it comes to refits and repairs. Since 2007, Dunya has successfully completed the work of 25 superyachts, including a 70 meter Lürssen, a 65 meter Benetti and a 62 meter CRN. Axioma Yacht CruiseDunya is currently underway with three impressive projects. The first is the 54.08 meter exploration yacht, Ulucitcan, which was partly built by Newcastle Marine in the United States and then transported to Dunya Yachts for completion. The second superyacht occupying Dunya’s hangars is the 48-metre support vessel, Project DY010which has an abundance of space and accessories to carry a small fleet of tenders and toys. DY010 supports yacht exterior design The latest project under construction at Dunya Yachts is the 46.7 meter Explorer Yacht, KB6 project. The latter two projects feature an exterior written by Gregory C. Marshall, while Ulucitcan sports an exterior by Vripack. All three projects are expected to be completed next year.Masterpiece yacht exterior design Masterpiece yacht exterior design Sedat Ergün, founder and chairman of Dunya Yachts, is looking to swap these projects with projects twice as big, as the shipyard has four newbuild projects on paper. The smallest of the fleet is the 80 meter superyacht Warriordesigned by Espen Øino International, followed closely by an 82 meter catamaran support vessel. Blade Yacht Exterior Design Dwarfing these projects in size, a 90-meter superyacht designed by Sinot, called Masterpieceand the 100 meter superyacht project, Bladewhich was designed by Ken Freivokh. Warrior exterior design Warrior exterior design Of course, it’s impossible to get the full picture of the activities going on across the country (or even in Istanbul alone), but the general excitement and buzz around the shipyards was certainly infectious.


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