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Builders for Jeff Bezos’ $500 Million Megayacht Apply to Have Historic Bridge Dismantled
A new chapter in the Jeff Bezos vs. The Bridge drama begins. The billionaire’s latest toy is a sail-assisted megayacht that is scheduled to begin sea trials next month, but the problem is that it can’t get to the sea because it can’t clear a historic bridge on one of the canals. So, the bridge must go.

Builders for Jeff Bezos’ $500 Million Megayacht Apply to Have Historic Bridge Dismantled

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In February this year, word got out that Oceanco, a Netherlands-based shipbuilder commissioned with building Jeff Bezos’ $500 million sail-assisted megayacht, had been granted the permit to temporarily dismantle the historic bridge Koningshaven in Rotterdam. The shipyard is located in Alblasserdam, near Rotterdam so, for Y721 or Project 721, as Bezos’ vessel is codenamed, to make its way for sea trials, it would have to go through the canals.

The problem is that Y721 has 70-meter (230-foot) masts, but the bridge only offers 40 meters (131 feet) of clearance. Koningshaven Bridge, affectionately called by locals De Hef, has been dismantled before and, more importantly, bombed by the Nazis in WWII. After it was rebuilt, it became a historic landmark and a symbol for the city, so whatever attempt at its integrity is bound to meet with animosity. Even if it’s only a temporary thing.

It’s exactly what happened when word got out that Oceanco wanted to dismantle it for Bezos. As controversy picked up speed, the city authorities said that a request hadn’t even been filed with them, let alone approved, suggesting that this was a classic case of a tempest in a teapot: people were overreacting for nothing.

Except that it’s not so.

The Financial Times spoke to several people within the city administration and Rotterdam residents and – surprise, surprise – the application is “ongoing.” Oceanco did ask the city for permission to tear down the bridge to let the ship pass and then put it back together, mentioning that the backup plan, in case permission is not granted, is to take the hull under the bridge and then assemble the masts once it clears it.

Oceanco doesn’t say why this option is not Plan A instead of the backup, the publication notes, but it could have to do with prior objections that the operation would add to the costs by requiring another yard where to do it. By comparison, dismantling and putting the bridge back together comes with an additional cost of just €100,000, which is roughly $105,000 at the current exchange rate.

Whatever the reason, the city must make a decision on the request this month, because Y721 is to begin sea trials in August. The situation has caused tension among residents and the political class, with the FT highlighting the debate on “issues of global inequality and the power of tech billionaires.” Put it simply, the mere fact that this giant vessel was commissioned by the world’s second-richest man is getting tempers flaring and discussions going on whether money can – or should – trump over history and national pride.

The issue, though, is not so much Bezos vs. The Bridge as it’s Oceanco vs. The Bridge. Two sources close to the situation tell the publication that it’s the shipbuilder that should shoulder most of the blame for the snafu. They must’ve relied on a tacit agreement with the city and, because of it, failed to follow due proceedings.

“It doesn’t make sense to start building a $500mn ship with no prior approval, otherwise you have a $500 million problem in your hands,” one such insider tells the publication.

Y721 is proving to be Oceanco’s most publicized build to date. The 127-meter (417-foot) long vessel is believed to have been inspired by another Oceanco superyacht, the gorgeous, sail-assisted Black Pearl, which boasts of being the largest in the world of its kind, as well as the greenest. Y721 doesn’t have a fancy name yet (this will be up to Bezos, once he takes delivery), but it comes with a reported cost of $500 million, which doesn’t include the cost of a matching shadow vessel – which is big enough to function as a standalone superyacht.



 
 
 
 
 

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