Project Signature: The Revolutionary, Custom Megayacht No One Talks About

Here's to hoping you take your morning coffee with two scoops of mystery and intrigue and a side of luxury yacht. One of the industry's biggest, presumably most expensive, and most revolutionary builds is also the most mysterious.
Project Signature is a 120-meter (394-foot) fully custom megayacht that's being kept a secret 12 photos
Photo: Amels Yachting (Composite)
Serenity JSerenity JSerenity JSerenity JSerenity JSerenity JSerenity JSerenity JSerenity JSerenity JProject Signature is a 120-meter (394-foot) fully custom megayacht that's being kept a secret
You often hear celebrities and public figures complain about how smartphones and social media have made keeping a secret impossible. If you think about it, this goes beyond celebrity sightings: whether in tech, the auto industry, or the luxury segment, there are always leaks and chatty insiders looking to make a quick buck by spilling the beans, even if that means breaking NDAs.

A private project like a new superyacht is no exception, but it's not the rule either. You'd think keeping secrets when it comes to something of the size of a superyacht can't be done because of the vessel's size, the large teams working on it in various stages of the project, and the fact that they're spread out across several countries. But as Project Signature proves, the bigger and the more expensive the build, the more impressive the secrecy.

As of the moment of press, Project Signature is among the industry's biggest superyachts, the most revolutionary, and, on account of both, presumably among the most expensive as well. Funny then how it launched this week in a complete media blackout.

Project Signature is a 120\-meter \(394\-foot\) fully custom megayacht that's being kept a secret
Photo: Amels Yachting (Composite)

Amels and Damen's super-fancy Project Signature

Project Signature is a fully custom 120-meter (394-foot) superyacht from Amels Yachting. It was announced in 2020 and sold in September of that same year, with the shipyard saying that construction would begin in Galati, Romania, at the Damen Yachting shipyard. The name of the owner was never disclosed to the public, but whoever they were, they were represented by Imperial Yachts.

Not much about Project Signature was shared with the public then, but Imperial promised more details in the following months. They never came. The delivery date was estimated for 2025: upon delivery, Project Signature would become Amels' newest flagship, a megayacht so revolutionary and so luxurious that it would set the bar high for every other build.

Project Signature also held the record for the largest superyacht built in the Netherlands but only temporarily and in theory only. Despite the initial plan, it doesn't look like Project Signature will undergo any work in the Netherlands. Even if it did, the record has already been claimed by Koru, Jeff Bezos' $500 million 127-meter (416-foot) sailing yacht built by Oceanco and delivered to the Amazon billionaire earlier this year.

Still, at 120 meters in total length and a beam of 20 meters (65.6 feet), Project Signature isn't trailing Koru that far back. Designed by architect Espen Oino and his team, Project Signature was once described by Imperial Director Julia Stewart as "one the most striking, silent, and advanced superyachts ever delivered," built in accordance with Lloyds Register of Shipping EP (Environment Protection).

Serenity J
Photo: Camper & Nicholsons
Powered by a diesel-electric plant, it would have "the lowest levels of noise and vibration ever experienced on a yacht of this size." So it wouldn't be just a luxurious, massive vessel but also one with a reduced carbon footprint. Innovation of this kind on a project of this scale doesn't come cheap, either for the builder or the intended beneficiary.

Complete media blackout on the launch

Project Signature is the kind of project even luxury shipyards would take extreme pride in, and that would reflect in the way information about it is shared with the media. It's a fully-custom megayacht, it's the biggest on Amels' fleet right now, and it aims to integrate hybrid propulsion as a way to steer superyacht ownership in a more sustainable direction. It is, quite literally, the kind of perfect project any shipyard would be more than thrilled to be working on – and they'd talk your ear off about it whatever chance they got.

So how come you haven't heard about it? How come no one has said anything about it past September 2020, even though construction started without delay? How come there isn't as much as a press release about the June 2023 launch at the Galati shipyard, an event that should have – at least in theory – generated considerable fanfare? The answer to all these questions is "sanctions."

Serenity J
Photo: Camper & Nicholsons
That's because the owner is Russian, according to superyacht vlogger eSysman, citing sources familiar with the situation. The megayacht launched in a complete media blackout and was towed to Turkey at another Damen shipyard where outfitting will take place. The original plan was for the outfitting to take place in the Netherlands, but Amels ditched it because the country has barred any kind of work for Russians, whether sanctioned or not. Turkey, on the other hand, refuses to impose sanctions.

Imperial Yachting, which was overseeing the build on behalf of the owner, was also sanctioned by the U.S. in June 2022, so it's temporarily shuttered. Management of Project Signature has passed on to Deeside Maritime, a newer company that seems to employ key figures from Imperial. However, before you conclude some sanction-flaunting might be the case, Imperial is adamant that they are "not currently managing or involved with Project Signature."

Project Signature is one megayacht to keep an eye out for.

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Editor's note: For illustrative purposes, photos in the gallery show the much smaller Amels Limited Edition 180 Serenity J yacht.

About the author: Elena Gorgan
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Elena has been writing for a living since 2006 and, as a journalist, she has put her double major in English and Spanish to good use. She covers automotive and mobility topics like cars and bicycles, and she always knows the shows worth watching on Netflix and friends.
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