Iconic British Explorer Blends Ruggedness With Sumptuous Retro-Style Interiors

This 180-foot global explorer doesn't try to disguise its heavy-duty machinery and commercial vessel appearance. It looks like a commercial ship that was transformed into a superyacht, yet that's how it was built from the start. Meet Steel, one of the most iconic superyachts with explorer capabilities.
Steel is one of the most iconic expedition superyachts built in the UK 22 photos
Photo: Y.CO
Pendennis is not only one of the most important superyacht shipyards in the UK but also one of the most famous ones worldwide. It's been around for half a century, and it's mostly known for its state-of-the-art refit projects. It currently has more than 200 refits under its belt, including the 85.6-meter (280 feet) Aquila, which was the largest yacht to be refitted in the UK (a project completed in 2016).

But the reputable shipyard also launched around 30 luxury yachts built from scratch, all of which were custom-made projects. Some of the most famous ones are the 45-meter (147 feet) Ilona (currently known as Moatize), delivered in 1999, and the 44-meter (145 feet) sailing catamaran Hemisphere. Steel, the 55-meter (180-foot) ice-class expedition vessel, would become the Pendennis flagship in 2009 when it made its glorious debut. Today, Steel is still the largest-volume vessel built at the British yard.

Steel's original owner is still mysterious, but according to the shipyard, he played an active role in the design and styling of the bespoke superyacht. Burness Corlett & Partners, based in Southampton, were responsible for the impressive naval architecture, while Liebowitz & Pritchard created the yacht's exquisite interior style with a nostalgic retro vibe.

Photo: Y.CO
Steel was fully worthy of its masculine, straightforward name. At its debut more than a decade ago, it turned heads with its unusual dark green color, a rare choice in the world of superyachts. Today, the Pendennis yacht no longer sports that instantly recognizable look.

Following a minor refit at its original shipyard in 2016, Steel went from dark green to dark navy. The color may have changed, but Steel continues to flaunt a high prow, a hydraulic elevating crow's nest, a rounded stern that gives it a majestic, sculptural look, and a forward work deck that isn't disguised in any way.

Steel is, above all else, a rugged expedition yacht born for world exploration. Its awe-inspiring silhouette is primarily oriented toward performance and resilience. As its name suggests, it was built mainly in steel, with the deckhouse and upperworks made of aluminum. The rounded stern underbody is specifically designed to enhance stability. Four Quantum zero-speed stabilizers were also added to eliminate the pesky rolling motion at anchor.

Photo: Y.CO
According to Pendennis, most of the systems and equipment onboard were custom-made for this bespoke explorer. The result is a rugged ship that can withstand the most challenging sea and weather conditions. Steel can make its way comfortably into the polar regions, and it feels at home in the tropics as well. In formal terms, this yacht is fully MCA compliant and built to +100AL Lyods, 1a Ice Class.

What this means is that Steel is a seaworthy long-range expedition vessel that can make its way through ice that is up to one meter thick. It also holds the fuel capacity, extensive storage, and power to travel as far as 5,000 nautical miles (9,260 km) at 12 knots (22 kph). At an economical speed, it promises an impressive range of 7,000 nautical miles (13,000 km).

What makes this British beast iconic is that it doesn't stop at top-notch performance but couples it with the sumptuous, luxurious interiors of a superyacht. For that reason, Steel was called "a beautiful contradiction." While its exterior is unapologetically rough and rugged, its interiors take you back in time to the golden era of luxury cruising, the 1920s. On board this spacious vessel (769 GT volume), you'll discover the timeless elegance and exquisite comfort of a classic cruiser.

Photo: Y.CO
You'll be surprised and delighted to explore the yacht's fabulous grand room with high ceilings and low lights, the classic-style gentleman's bar, the dedicated humidor, and the vast sundeck with a generous-sized swimming pool. Cuban mahogany and Dutch marble abound, turning Steel's interiors into highly sophisticated living spaces.

The lavish accommodation includes a master suite with a huge en-suite bathroom that boasts a retro-style free-standing bathtub, a spacious double cabin, and four twin cabins. Additional Pullman berths add flexibility to this generous configuration, which makes Steel particularly suitable for large families or groups of friends. Just like luxury cruise ships from the golden age, Steel boasts a nearly one-to-one guest-crew ratio, with accommodation for 12 guests and 11 crew members.

Designed for challenging expeditions, this powerful yacht is equally about onboard luxury. Its ingenious layout includes a wide variety of dining options, including the grand room with a 12-seat dining setup perfect for elegant parties and several al-fresco options. The modern amenities include a large, active-current swimming pool that's great for both relaxation and working out and a separate, well-equipped gym.

Photo: Y.CO
Like any self-respecting expedition yacht, Steel also comes with a plethora of water toys and boats for further exploration, including a 29-foot owner's jet tender.

Luckily, this world-cruising masterpiece valued at somewhere around $29 million is available for charter customers. Those who can afford to spend more than $250,000 for one week onboard will be fully immersed in this iconic yacht's classic ambiance without sacrificing any of today's typical superyacht pampering options.
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About the author: Otilia Drăgan
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Otilia believes that if it’s eco, green, or groundbreaking, people should know about it (especially if it's got wheels or wings). Working in online media for over five years, she's gained a deeper perspective on how people everywhere can inspire each other.
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