Superyacht, with Maxima care

An in-depth interview with Giosuè Vezzuto, Executive Vice President of Marine at RINA, on decarbonisation, digitalisation and comfort on board super and mega yachts. All the challenges you can face and overcome with RINA Maxima

by Olimpia De Casa

Known as the leading certification and engineering company in Italy, RINA is present in 70 countries with 200 offices and 5,300 employees working to simplify complex processes, with a particular focus on the green transition, sustainability and digitalisation. A multinational company – with a turnover of 725 million euros in 2022 – able to provide the necessary support to build successful businesses, thanks to the experience it has gained in very different industrial sectors and to the know-how and professional skills it has dedicated to making even the most ambitious projects a reality. In addition to participating in the main international organisations that contribute to the development of new standards and regulations, RINA offers a range of services that go far beyond the marine industry. The company, whose history began in Genoa in 1861 with the establishment of the Italian Naval Registry, is now active in the energy, infrastructure & mobility, industry and real estate sectors. In the yachting industry – where the company based in Via Corsica has been operating for about twenty years with global leadership for CE certifications of boats up to 24 metres in length – RINA is gaining a leading role also in the segment of metal-hull pleasure boats thanks to its solid team of specialists and cutting-edge skills. Rina’s reputation is also due to its bespoke services specifically studied to respond to the particular needs of design firms, shipyards and owners alike.

To date, we certify almost 1,300 pleasure boating units worldwide, of which about seventy are beyond 500 tonnes in gross tonnage. This is something that makes us particularly proud because it allows us to be a part of that extremely small circle of companies that operate in this specific segment”. The other figure that is worth mentioning is the number of projects in the order portfolio that exceed 24 metres: a total of 382. This result, in addition to honouring the leadership of the Italian company headed by Ugo Salerno, also reflects the excellent performance of super and mega yacht production. An interpretation that is confirmed by engineer Vezzuto. “The fact that the market of large-size ships is experiencing a strong expansion is certified by the number of signed contracts: 2020 witnessed the sale of 72 pleasure boats, all units between 40 and 180 metres in length, a number that rose to 128 in 2021 (+78% in one single year) and to 175 in 2022. In 2023 sales in this segment reached more than 200 units. A market ‘niche’ in which the Italian industry continues to play a lead role together with Nordic and Turkish builders. These are all regions in which RINA has been present in a structured way for many years. In the early 2000s, we were also the first to launch a specific construction standard for the superyacht industry with a particular focus on sustainability, a priority which has always been our main focus and has also been a main concern in the boating industry in general and in pleasure boating in particular for several years now”.

«To date, we have classified almost 1,300 yachts worldwide, of which around seventy are over 500 gross tonnage. This last figure makes us particularly proud because it puts us in the very small circle of companies operating in this precise segment». Giosuè Vezzuto

Riding this wave of the boost in the maxi yacht industry was the launch of the brand RINA Maxima on the occasion of the 2022 Monaco Yacht Show. “It is a bundle of services designed and delivered exclusively for large recreational craft, i.e. custom-built units with metal hulls. It was created to help designers, builders and owners meet the future challenges of this industry: decarbonisation and digitalisation. On the first front, we have published a series of standards and norms for the use of alternative fuels such as methanol and hydrogen on board these boats, as well as different propulsion systems, in particular hybrid, battery and fuel cell systems. In terms of digitalisation, we have launched Sertica Yacht, a management optimisation software which, for boats of this size, has a level of complexity comparable to that of a real company. We have developed our software, which we bought three years ago in Denmark and which is now called RINA Digital Solutions. In addition to decarbonisation and digitalisation, Maxima is also focusing on the issue of comfort, another key component on board such vessels. In this context, it is necessary to offer quiet operation without vibrations and – as the latest service launched – as insensitive as possible to the movements of the boat. To control this aspect, RINA Maxima has now introduced a series of guidelines that even allow you to assess and measure the boat’s accelerations, which are responsible for the so-called “seasickness” that some passengers feel”.

How can you detect them? During the design stage, you run a series of simulations on the computer using fluid dynamics software that can predict how the boat will react to the stresses exerted by the sea. For example, how much and how the boat will move, both in terms of movement and speed, which is the most disturbing factor. These simulations make it possible to understand how to intervene in order to maximise the effect of the stabilisation systems installed on board. Once the design is complete, the ship is tested in the water, which is the perfect test bed to check that what the models predicted actually happens during the voyage and to make the necessary adjustments. The final result is a certificate of stability issued by Rina. In other words, a tool that allows the shipyard to measure and then certify the ship’s comfort.

Does the certification become a contractual standard? Yes, in every respect. Stability is the third pillar by which a ship’s comfort is measured. RINA Maxima has already demonstrated its mastery of the other two, noise and vibration, with particularly remarkable and appreciated results thanks to its dedicated services. In fact, using sophisticated analysis tools, RINA Maxima’s technicians are able not only to measure the levels of noise and vibration recorded during sea trials, but also to identify their source in order to intervene where necessary.

RINA is also playing an increasingly important role in the metal hull yachting sector, thanks to its solid team of specialists and its cutting-edge skills. The company is also renowned for its bespoke services, designed to meet the specific needs of naval architects, shipyards and owners alike.

Just over a year after the launch of the new service profile for superyachts, how do you rate the results? Extremely positive and satisfactory. The response from Italian shipyards has been remarkable. RINA Maxima’s services are currently involved in ongoing projects with Permare, Palumbo, Benetti, Baglietto, CRN and Wider. Equally interesting are the commitments that involve us as partners of the most important Turkish shipyards, such as Bilgin Yachts, Tersan and Nebula Yacht, who have used Maxima in its full version for the project of a 60-metre yacht. As Rina’s brand encompasses a group of many different services, it is clear that each shipyard can choose the one that is most interesting and beneficial for them. With some shipyards we work more on decarbonisation, with others on comfort or digitalisation. To this end, in addition to the fleet management software already mentioned, Maxima pays particular attention to protection against cyber-attacks, an issue to which owners of mega and giga yachts are particularly sensitive. In order to increase security in this area, we have developed a “Cyber Security and Vulnerability Assessment” package to verify that the ship’s communication network is adequately protected against hacking.

Equally remarkable is the news RINA presented at the 2023 Monaco Yacht Show, an important international showcase reserved for the universe of super and mega yachts. “Given what we are doing in this segment, it is inevitable to make important investments to be present in Monte Carlo, the appointment of choice to engage in networking but also to launch the novelties we have developed with our clients, whom we support from a regulatory point of view. This year we presented a collaboration with CRN which, in the spirit of sustainability and respect for the environment, has given life to an innovative PEM (Proton Exchange Membrane) fuel cell system to be installed on board a super yacht. After a year and a half of joint research and development, RINA has confirmed that the Ferretti Group’s Sustainable Power Yacht project is suitable for correct operation and easy management, in addition to complying with the necessary standards and regulations for its safe implementation”.

What exactly does it do? The system allows the yacht to anchor for a limited time with zero emissions. The main innovation is the process of converting green methanol into hydrogen and using it in fuel cells to generate electricity.

THE MARKET OF LARGE BOATS IS EXPANDING STRONGLY. IN 2020, 72 PLEASURE BOATS WERE SOLD, A FIGURE THAT ROSE TO 128 IN 2021 (+78% IN A SINGLE YEAR) AND 175 IN 2022. IN 2023, SALES EXCEED 200 UNITS.

Also during the last Monaco Yacht Show, RINA explained its partnership with Meccano Engineering, the Trieste-based company involved in the Orca 65 project, an ice-class explorer yacht with mixed diesel and methanol propulsion, where RINA is involved in assessing the technical feasibility of a regulatory point of view. The Monaco event was also the occasion to officially launch the collaboration with Sea Index (Superyacht Eco Association), a non-profit organisation born from the Yacht Club de Monaco, whose aim is to accurately assess how green yachts are.

How? Through a series of indices that measure the emissions of pleasure boats. Our contribution was to study an index for boats over 500 tonnes of gross tonnage. This is based on the engines and generators installed, of course, and makes it possible to calculate the amount of CO2 and greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere during operation. It is a tool that already existed for merchant vessels, but their operational profiles are very different from pleasure craft, which typically spend only about 20% of their total life at sea, 30% at anchor and the remaining 50% in marinas. Therefore, since it is not possible to relate the emissions of recreational craft to the load they carry and the miles they travel, as is the case for merchant vessels, we have studied an index that takes into account the specific characteristics of recreational craft to make it truly representative of the actual emissions of a yacht.

«IN THE EARLY 2000’S WE WERE THE FIRST TO INTRODUCE A SPECIFIC CONSTRUCTION STANDARD FOR THE SUPERYACHT INDUSTRY WITH A STRONG FOCUS ON SUSTAINABILITY, A PRIORITY THAT HAS ALWAYS BEEN AT THE CENTRE OF OUR ATTENTION».

The green transition and the decarbonisation of naval transport have been at the heart of the agreement signed with Eni for over a year now, with the implementation of joint initiatives to further enhance mutual capabilities. “In particular, we are committed to increasing the use of the biofuel HVO (Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil) in the marine industry, as well as other energy sources such as hydrogen or “blue” or “green” ammonia, derived from biogenic, renewable or waste materials that do not compete with the food supply chain”.

Since there is currently no real possibility of installing carbon capture devices on board recreational craft to store carbon dioxide, how can greenhouse gas emissions be reduced? By using alternative low or zero-carbon fuels, such as hydrogen.

«RINA MAXIMA IS A BUNDLE OF SERVICES DEVELOPED EXCLUSIVELY FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF LARGE PLEASURE CRAFT, INTENDED TO HELP DESIGNERS, BUILDERS AND SHIPOWNERS MEET THE FUTURE CHALLENGES OF THE INDUSTRY».

What are the benefits of biofuels? HVOs are hydrogenated vegetable oils. With the addition of hydrogen, they can easily be used as fuels. They are called drop-ins because they do not require any major changes to the propulsion system, other than minor adjustments to the seals along the piping of the fuel purification and filtration systems. HVO is therefore highly valued for its flexibility – the ship can use either diesel or biofuel – and for the benefits it offers to crew and guests, as it is colourless and odourless. When it burns, it emits neither smoke nor harmful particles, so it does not foul the hull, and it is spreading rapidly in Italy too. At the moment it costs two to three times more than traditional fuels, but it also has the great advantage of having a net CO2 balance of zero. This takes into account the entire cycle of the substance and therefore the fact that the carbon dioxide is present upstream in the waste recycling process. So all we need to do now is monitor how the use of biofuels spreads. They also have the advantage of being compatible with both existing and new equipment designed and built to run on methanol, hydrogen and fuel cells. Fuel cells also follow the same general rule of correct and careful use. Otherwise, we could end up with the ultimate “green” solution on the market, but the best results that could be achieved would be wasted because of inappropriate operation. “It would be like buying the latest A+++ fridge but forgetting to close the door”.

(Superyacht, with Maxima care – Barchemagazine.com – May 2024)