The Turkish Shipyards Challenging European Domination
“Turkey is a treasure trove for historic and modern day talent.” The words of Turquoise Yachts sales director Cristian Schwartzwalder recognise the prowess already prevalent in the Turkish yachting industry. This talent is gaining momentum with a view to taking on the hegemony of established European builders. Larger facilities, larger yachts and larger ambitions are shaping an exciting new era for Turkish-built superyachts.
Turkey already has a proud legacy of yachting, with classics such as 106m Dream, 80.1m Bilgin 263 and 77m Go finding their origins here. It will no longer be a novelty to find such classic superyachts built in Turkey, but a regularity.
Builders Turquoise and Bilgin have proven themselves to be upcoming purveyors of large yachts, and now some of the younger shipyards are entering the fray. All share the same vision, to build bigger and better yachts.
Founded in 2008, Alia Yachts epitomise the ambition of the Turkish yachting industry. Alia have always pioneered in small and mid-size yachts, and excelled in the range, but the construction of a new complex is a statement of intent to work on much larger projects.
The new complex, which will be completed this month, entails 16,000 square metres of storage areas and workshops along with five 90m construction halls. Integrally, two of these halls will allow 22m in height under the cranes, allowing for the assembly of much larger yachts under cover. In a clear indication of growth, the new complex will triple the size of the shipyard and, as Alia President Gökhan Çelik states, “enable us to accommodate larger projects than our existing sheds currently allow.”
Dunya Yachts is another example of a Turkish shipyard on the rise in the new-build market. In 2005, Sedat Ergun transformed his family’s commercial shipping yard into an advanced technology facility dedicated to the construction of the world’s finest superyachts.
Speaking to Superyachts.com, Dunya’s sales director Jeremy Frank Roche stated Dunya “was born to compete with leading northern European shipyards in the construction of large yachts.” The completion of the award-winning 73 metre Axioma in 2013 certainly delivered on that prophecy.
Yet Axioma was just the start. Mr Roche went on to outline Dunya’s intentions to build on this success. “We have identified an area of the market, and vessel type, to develop a range of semi-custom yachts,” Roche said, “something truly unique from a Turkish shipyard.”
The more veteran Turkish shipyards are just as determined to continue their growth in the industry. Turquoise yachts, the first Turkish superyacht builder, have been on a meteoric trajectory having built over 30 yachts from their 2 state of the art construction facilities. “With capital investment from our major shareholder, Dr Mohammed al Barwani, we are poised to compete in the world arena of superyacht builders,” says Cristian Schwartzwalder.
The delivery of more ground-breaking Turkish yachts is on the horizon. Bilgin Yachts, recognised in 2016 as among the top 20 yacht builders in the world, is planning to launch three units of 80-metre yachts in the next two years, with an additional 85-metre project. Outlining this trajectory in the yachting sector, CEO İsmail Şengün said "we aim to establish Turkey as a power in the 80-metre and above range. The continued investment has allowed significantly increased capacity to build and maintain very large yachts".
The delivery of Bilgin 263 I, II and III will move the world-renowned shipyard into a new range and certainly challenge European competitors. After the delivery of the first Bilgin 156 (Starbursts III), the second unit of the 46-metre line Lilium will head to the South of France this summer to make her public debut at the 2019 Monaco Yacht Show.
The yacht sector is burgeoning in this part of the world. Significant investment in new facilities and a proliferation of shipyards have transformed Turkey into a major segment of the superyacht industry, and we expect to see exciting developments in the coming years.
"We aim to establish Turkey as a power in the 80-metre and above range. "