4x4-inspired Aquanaut yacht explores deeper with onboard submarine
SUVs and crossovers are such an unstoppable force right now they've started to infiltrate yacht design. More than once in the past we've seen a declaration something like "the SUV of the high seas," and Italian design firm Officina Armare has a new interpretation. The 60-foot (18.3-m) Aquanaut leaves four-wheel drive on land in favor of dual-hull navigation, bringing along more toys than an SUV ever could ever handle. What it bears in common with its land-based relative is a strong focus on bringing together adventure, luxury and explorative capability. Whether absorbing rays on the expandable sundeck or diving deep below waterline with the onboard submarine, passengers enjoy an incomparable mix of relaxation and recreation.
We think "SUV" is actually underselling the Aquanaut. An SUV is good for a day of exploring off the beaten path, but once the sun starts setting, its best to head back out to civilization.
With luxurious onboard living accommodations for up to eight people, the Aquanaut can journey on through multiple sunsets and sunrises. Its purpose-built submarine docking platform ensures that its large size doesn't keep onboard adventurers from exploring the nuances of its surroundings, allowing them to continue the journey to depths much greater than the main vessel is capable. And in those ways, the Aquanaut is much more a seafaring premium off-road expedition vehicle, a nautical answer to the likes of the ATV-carrying Unicat MD56c or Suzuki Jimny-boarding Action Mobil Atacama 7900. What those vessels do on land, the Aquanaut continues on water.
Looks-wise, both the SUV and off-road expedition vehicle analogies are apt. The Aquanaut's boxy, 25-foot (7.7-m)-beam catamaran styling is reminiscent of everything from a burly Unimog motorhome to a Ford Bronco or Ineos Grenadier. From the strong, upright bow, through the stout, level hulls, the Aquanaut appears ready to power through anything that lies in its path, whether that's open water or jagged sea stacks. It calls on a pair of 800-hp Volvo Penta IPS 1050 engines to do just that (the open water part, at least), hitting a top speed of 40 knots (46 mph or 74 km/h) and cruising at 30 knots (35 mph or 56 km/h).
The visual draw of the Aquanaut design is the bulbous submersible that sits centered at the stern. That's the U-Boat Worx Nemo personal submarine introduced just months ago. The striking, compact underwater two-seater was developed to be the lightest manned submersible ever built. The Aquanaut's stern platform holds the Nemo like an open-air garage, hydraulically lowering it down to the water when it's time to deploy. The Nemo can leave the Aquanaut high above, diving down to 330 feet (100 m) below the surface and traveling for up to eight hours.
Like an SUV loaded with bikes at the hitch and kayaks on the roof, the Aquanaut will carry other recreational and explorational toys, including Seabobs, diving gear and surfboards.
With the Nemo sub diving and bobbing underwater, its storage deck can remain at sea level and serve as a swimming platform or lift back up to fill in the missing floor space of the large sundeck, which further expands with extending bulwarks. The resulting teak-floored party space includes an open-air bar and sun bed, with an al fresco dining area and lounge located just under the roof. The foredeck offers a more intimate respite, bringing together a jacuzzi, seamless sundeck and four-seat dining nook. A full outdoor Fusion audio system weaves a soundtrack into the salt-laden air.
There's no indication that the Aquanaut interior has been finalized, but specs show it will have four staterooms to sleep up to the eight passengers. The galley will include Bosch appliances, while the onboard entertainment suite will comprise four 40-in Samsung 4K TVs and Bose audio.
The Aquanaut will be built to order by Turkish shipyard Licia Yachts. Yacht brokerage Worth Avenue lists the Aquanaut at a price of €2,590,500 (approx. US$3.1 million) If that sounds a little too rich for you, you could always skip the yacht and tow the lightweight Nemo submarine to the water via an actual SUV (perhaps a Bentley Bentayga, as pictured). The Nemo will only set you back a cool €975,000 euro ($1.2 million).