The Rolls-Royce yacht concept, dubbed Crystal Blue, showcases hybrid propulsion using battery power and liquefied natural gas

Rolls-Royce has unveiled a 62m luxury yacht concept designed to showcase the advantages of advanced ship intelligence solutions and hybrid propulsion based on LNG (liquefied natural gas) fuel and battery power in the marine leisure market.

Introduced during the Global Superyacht Forum in Amsterdam, the Rolls-Royce yacht Crystal Blue yacht and its attendant support vessel Blue Shadow have been developed to demonstrate new thinking in yacht design and propulsion.

One of the many novel features is the use of an intelligent dynamic positioning system which automatically controls twin Azimuth thrusters and a TT1100 bow thruster – technology that is usually found on offshore support vessels.

The machinery consists of twin LNG-fuelled 16V4000 MTU M65-N generators working in parallel with a battery bank to provide 1MWh of generator-free power during stays in port. Two low-weight carbon Azipull thrusters provide propulsive power to achieve maximum service speeds of 20 knots.

Although LNG fuel is increasingly specified for commercial vessels, particularly ferries, the size of the fuel tanks and a lack of LNG bunkering infrastructure has been a major barrier to the yacht sector embracing the cleaner, odourless fuel. Article continues below…

“This is where Blue Shadow comes in,” explained Henrik Alpo Sjöblom, project manager of the Rolls-Royce Blue Ocean team. Operating in convoy, Blue Shadow is a smaller 42m, remotely-controlled, steel-hulled support vessel used for transporting and launching the mother ship’s tenders, helicopter and any other toys.

“We have dimensioned Crystal Blue fuel tanks for a range of 3,000 nautical miles without refuelling, but with the Shadow’s additional fuel capacity the range increases to 4,400 nautical miles, meaning that most of the popular cruising areas are accessible.

“Burning LNG has clear advantages over marine diesel oil,” continues Sjöblom. “There is no smoke, it doesn’t emit any unpleasant odours or fumes and it meets stringent emissions regulations, allowing yachts to enter otherwise prohibited ecologically sensitive waters.”

Rolls-Royce yacht

‘Blue Crystal’ with her 42m support vessel, ‘Blue Shadow’

A further innovative feature is the bridge, which is no longer in the conventional location. Oskar Levander, Rolls-Royce SVP Concepts and Innovation explains: “It’s been moved. Our ship intelligence and remote-control concepts have allowed us to design a yacht for the future that has the bridge located below the bow, inside the vessel.

“The crew is able to monitor and control the vessel using sophisticated sensors, cameras, display screens and situational awareness technologies. An internal bridge frees up the traditional area of the bridge in the forward part of the superstructure to let owners and guests enjoy a panoramic vista that is traditionally only enjoyed by the crew.”

An interesting benefit of the remote control systems is a ‘safe room’; a citadel in which guests and crew can seek refuge in the event of an unauthorised boarding. Once inside, the crew can override the controls and operate the yacht remotely or direct a shore-based centre to pilot the vessel.

Explaining the reason behind the development, Levander adds: “With Crystal Blue and Blue Shadow we can more effectively showcase how new digital-based ship intelligence solutions can offer unique possibilities, greater capability and added value to the luxury yacht market, both for new and existing vessels.”