Graeme Hart launches superyacht in Norway
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A Norwegian nautical secret has been revealed - New Zealand billionaire Graeme Hart is the owner of a new ship launched at the weekend.
Norwegian media say the 107-metre long "expedition yacht", launched at Ulsteinvik, north of Oslo, cost about 400 million kroner ($78 million).
Hart, complete with a nautical-monogrammed blazer, and wife Robyn were at the Kleven Verft shipyard for the launching of Ulysses.
It's a name Hart has used before.
Norway's business paper Dagens Næringsliv says that until the Harts showed up in Ulsteinvik, no-one knew who the new ship was for.
Dagens Næringsliv says Hart notoriously shuns media attention but given the size of the boat it was hard to avoid being noticed.
Hart said the boat was not designed to languish in celebrity Mediterranean ports. It was "very robust and seaworthy", especially suitable for longer expeditions in rough waters, "but also luxury". The ship would have a helipad, helicopter hangar, pool, hot tub and accommodation for 60 people.
Ship designers Marin Teknikk said Ulysses was built for longer expeditions in rough waters worldwide.
"This is a very exciting project for us," Hart told Dagens Næringsliv. "We have been around in the yard and on board the vessel, and I'm very pleased with Kleven and the work that has been done here so far."
Kleven specialises in oil and fishing-industry vessels.
When Kleven won the contract to build the ship, they called it an expedition support vessel, specially designed for adventurers who would settle for nothing but the most luxurious digs.
Svein Rune Gjerde, chief executive of Marin Teknikk, said Hart approached his company to design something different. "This has been a different and interesting project for our design team. The knowledge underpinning the development of this vessel is much the same as it is for our successful offshore vessels, but new regulations and specifications have made this an exciting and challenging project."
Richard Gjerde, sales director of Marin Teknikk, had been secretive about the owner.
"We got an anonymous request and we started to exchange information which soon ended up in meetings and design agreement", he said. "We worked out three different concept studies before the final design was chosen and all details agreed."
The Harts will take delivery of the ship next year.
Hart has another vessel, the luxury 77-metre Weta, moored in Whangarei undergoing a long refit after being towed from Chile as little more than a hull.
Hart used to own another ship named Ulysses. The more modest 51-metre long ship sat for years at Auckland's Viaduct, fully crewed and polished but going nowhere. Now renamed Grand Rusalina, it proved to have major engine problems. It is undergoing repairs in Monaco but it is not clear who owns it now.