When new management took over the former Broward Marine megayacht facility in Florida and reopened it as Broward Shipyard in 2010, the team had big plans. Three years later, some of those plans are coming to fruition, while other opportunities have led to the construction of two new megayachts.
During a visit to the yard earlier this month and meeting with Philippe Brandligt, who is overseeing sales and marketing, I saw activity both inside and outside the build shed. A 98-foot commercial vessel was in the process of being converted into a 115-foot megayacht, for example. A new bow and stern were already in place, with the interior being the next task. There’s no anticipated launch date yet, Brandligt says, adding that the owner doesn’t have a set schedule.
Elsewhere in the same shed were the hulls for identical 135-foot (41-meter) megayachts, with naval architecture and styling by Vripack, whose keels were laid in summer 2012 (seen below). Depicted in the rendering above, they’re for a new charter company called WorldSea Yachting that plans to offer per-cabin bookings, akin to cruise ships. The yachts, which will have six staterooms each, are the first new-build contracts under Broward Shipyard’s current ownership, a father and son team with experience in other aspects of the marine business. They’re also the first steel-hulled Browards ever built. (Broward Marine was established in the late 1940s as an aluminum yacht builder.) The two megayachts, to be named Challenger and Voyager, are further notable for being tied to a U.S. government program that attracts foreign nationals wishing to both to invest in the United States and to obtain a visa.
Specifically, the Immigrant Investor Program, also known as EB-5, was created by the U.S. Congress in 1990 to stimulate the economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors. These investors must support a new commercial enterprise that creates or preserves a minimum of 10 full-time jobs for American workers within two years of their admission to the United States as a Conditional Permanent Resident. According to Brandligt, there are six investors each for Challenger and Voyager, all of whom are investing $1 million apiece. Since each investor is responsible for the creation of 10 jobs under EB-5, that means 120 jobs must result at Broward Shipyard. (To be clear, the investors are not the yacht owners; they are investing in the company that owns Challenger and Voyager.) Brandligt says that additional financing for the megayachts is expected to come from banks and additional investors. Construction will continue on the aluminum superstructures and interiors once that final financing is arranged. The yachts will be built to Lloyds classification and further be MCA compliant. With twin 750-hp Caterpillars, each should see a top speed of 13½ knots and range of 5,000 nautical miles at 10 knots. In the meantime, in terms of the Immigrant Investor Program, “We tried to think outside the box with that,” Brandligt says.
Also thinking outside the box, Broward Shipyard is collaborating with other builders and companies in the area. Drive down the street that its facility is situated on, and you’ll pass Derecktor Shipyards, Playboy Marine, Powell Brothers, and a number of other yards big and small. Broward Shipyard has already reconfigured the layout of its facility to share business with some of these yards. For example, at the southern end of its property, Broward Shipyard is working with Powell Brothers. While Broward Shipyard has long been able to host megayachts in excess of 150 feet (64 meters) at its own seawall there, Brandligt says that commercial traffic on the channel often poses a problem. Cargo ships coming and going from a neighboring facility sometimes must swing into Broward Shipyard’s basin, which in turn puts the megayachts docked there at risk. Brandligt says that two companies remain on good turns, and that Broward Shipyard found a solution with Powell Brothers. Soon, megayachts to about 200 feet (nearly 61 meters) will be able to use its seawall instead. It’s in the midst of a rebuilding, with new lighting and features coming soon. Brandligt says he has spoken with the captains of about three or four megayachts interested in using the space when everything is completed. Parking will be provided alongside each yacht, plus a storage shed opposite the seawall will be available to store tenders or other toys. Powell Brothers has a small shop for metal work on site as well, should minor work be needed.
That’s not the end of the plans for Broward Shipyard, either. The redredging of the Dania Cutoff Canal late last year in front of its facility, as well as its neighbors, has increased depth to 17 feet and is now allowing the yard to reconfigure its docks. The goal is to improve the layout, but also to shift smaller yachts (to about 75 feet) to Playboy Marine. Brandligt says relocating these yachts will reduce overhead by 43 percent. Should they require service, Broward Shipyard will send its craftspeople there.
Brandligt and Broward Shipyard’s owners remain interested collaborating further with other builders and companies in the area. In fact, Brandligt says that Broward Shipyard hopes to host a superyacht symposium this October for Broward County-based companies both big and small.