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January 20, 2022

Heesen’s Galactica Makes it to Sea With Inches to Spare

The 262-ft superyacht had to navigate narrow canals and low bridges after leaving Heesen's shipyard.

By Alex Martin

This is the nail-biting moment a multi-million dollar, 262-ft superyacht navigated its way to the North Sea with just inches of space to spare. The Galactica yacht is the biggest ever built by Dutch shipbuilder Heesen and as these images suggest, there wasn’t much scope to make it any bigger.

Previously known as Project Cosmos, Galactica is the longest and fastest all-aluminum yacht in the world. Due to be delivered in April following four years of construction at Heesen’s shipyard in Oss, she undertook her maiden voyage this week ahead of her final sea trials.

In a testament to precision engineering, the yacht was left with just three inches on either side as she navigated miles of narrow canals, several lock gates and six bridges. With such small margins to play with, the journey from shipyard to sea was meticulously planned over four months. Once plans were in place, Heesen had to wait for a calm day with no winds before giving this fraught journey the green light – the slightest gust would have been enough to set Galactica off course.

[See also: Meet the Elite Traveler Eco Superyacht by Heesen]

Galactica yacht

Galactica pictured leaving the Heesen shipyard following a four-year build / ©Heesen

galactica in a canal

The superyacht was tugged at a snail’s pace through Holland’s canal system / ©Heesen

But whereas the width of the canal is set in stone, the water levels rise and fall. At one point, Galactica faced the prospect of turning back as the water level in the River Maas was too high for the boat to pass underneath the Heusden Bridge. But after waiting for the tide to be at its lowest, the yacht was eventually able to pass under the Heusden Bridge with three inches of clearance.

Heesen’s CEO Arthur Brouwer said: “Building large and complex superyachts is exciting, both from an engineering and construction perspective. We are incredibly fortunate to have the best naval architects, engineers, and craftsmen in the country to build our yachts. In spite of all the challenges imposed by the pandemic, we also managed to keep the construction of Project Cosmos, now known as MY Galactica, on schedule – which was no mean feat.

“Precision aluminium construction, high performance, and the finest Dutch craftsmanship are steeped into the DNA of this shipyard. Cosmos is the ultimate expression of our ability to build daring projects that stretch the imagination of its engineers and craftspeople.”

[See also: Heesen Launches New BlueNautech Sustainability Program]

galactica yacht under bridge

Water levels in the River Maas were higher than usual, leaving the yacht just inches to spare / ©Heesen

galactica yacht goes under a bridge

Crowds gather to watch the nail-biting moment Galactica goes under a bridge / ©Heesen

A close up shows there were mere millimeters between the yacht and the bridge / ©Heesen

While Galactica is the biggest yacht ever built by Heesen, the shipbuilder’s location in Oss has long shaped the design and construction of its projects. That means many key components, such as the radar, can only be attached once it has successfully navigated the canal system. The yacht arrived safely in the port town of Harlingen where the finishing touches will be applied before sea trials are undertaken.

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Ordered in 2018 by an anonymous buyer, Galactica was incredibly ambitious, not least because of the size. The brief called for a 262-ft (80m) superyacht capable of speeds approaching 30 knots. The size of the yacht required significant structural strength. A steel hull would have done the job but would have made her too heavy to reach the required top speed. To ensure she was fast enough, they used aluminum, which according to technology at the time, was not strong enough. It was a big problem that no shipbuilder had ever had to face and required out-of-the-box thinking.

[See also: Twenty for 20: Innovative Yachts of the 21st Century]

Speaking to Elite Traveler in 2020, sales director Mark Cavendish said: “It is ok to build boats up to 50m (164-ft) in aluminum using conventional construction techniques, what’s called longitudinal framing. When you get this long, to 80m, and the kind of power and weight of engines and the metal, you need to have more structural integrity in the yacht, so we invented this method of construction which we call the Backbone. We have ended up patenting it, so it is something quite special.

“It’s more or less the same principle as the regular steel I-Beam girder. We’ve got the two sides of the ship and then at the bottom we have the keel and they’re all linked through the structure in the middle that gives the rigidity and stops the boat from bending. All the strength is in the structure.”

At 262-ft long, Galactica is the biggest yacht ever built by Heesen / ©Heesen

The aesthetics of Galactica are just as striking as the engineering. Yacht designers Winch Design have blended timeless aesthetics with a dash of Heesen’s forward-thinking DNA. A project of this magnitude requires meticulous planning both inside and out. Every piece of furniture that will go on the boat will be customized to fit the interiors. All the bathrooms will be clad in marble while other areas will use luxurious materials like black onyx, straw marquetry and crystal panels. Galactica also has a bespoke tender, designed and built to look like a miniature version of the superyacht.

Galactica has a host of special amenities, such as a helipad that transforms into an outdoor cinema / ©Winch Design

galactica rendering

A rendering shows how Galactica will look when she is complete alongside her bespoke tender / ©Heesen

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