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Pioneering Sustainable Yachting: Insights from Arie Van Andel, CTO of Oceanco

Join us for an exclusive interview with Arie Van Andel, Chief Technology Officer at Oceanco, as he delves into the innovative strides the company is making in the realm of yacht design and technology. With a commitment to sustainability and cutting-edge advancements, Oceanco is at the forefront of creating eco-friendly and advanced superyachts. In this conversation, Arie shares his vision for the future, the integration of emerging technologies, and how Oceanco is navigating the challenges and opportunities within the maritime industry. Discover how Oceanco is shaping the future of yachting with groundbreaking designs and a steadfast commitment to sustainability.


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Role and Vision: As the CTO of Oceanco, could you share how your role shapes the company’s vision and technological advancements in yacht design?


I don’t believe one person shapes the company’s vision and technological advancements, per se; but rather this stems from the company’s DNA, which we have articulated in our vision and mission statement. Our company’s vision is “to be the most exclusive builder of the world’s coolest yachts,” and our mission is “to create, deliver, and support innovative and uniquely designed, high-quality large yachts that are perfect for their visionary owners”.
Owners usually have a vision or dream of how they want their yacht to look and the experience they want it to deliver. It is up to us to interpret their wishes and to realise them in the physical form of a yacht that, once delivered, surpasses all expectations. This can only be achieved when our approach to design and technical systems – a core part of our DNA – is fundamentally innovative.


Since the earliest days of Oceanco, we have been privileged to collaborate with nonconformist owners and equally ambitious partners to push boundaries with our yachts. This has resulted in arguably the most impressive portfolio of innovation in the yachting industry. Projects like Black Pearl are a typical example where an owner’s distinct vision, Oceanco’s innovative essence, and the strong partnership with our Co-maker network converged with spectacularly innovative results. These achievements show the power of partnership, and we are thankful for everyone who has joined us on this journey.


Technology Integration: What are the latest technological innovations Oceanco has integrated into its yacht designs and how have they enhanced performance and luxury?


AI and machine learning are starting to play a beneficial role in how we engineer, build, and operate yachts. Interestingly, we are making the first steps towards predictive maintenance of yachts, which should allow us to reduce downtime—a significant benefit for owners and crew.


This new technological capability brings the potential to evaluate vast amounts of information more quickly, meaning we can gain better insight into the carbon footprint of our yachts throughout the building process and eventual lifecycle. With this data in place, we can narrow the gap between where we are today and where we want to be in a more efficient reality—bringing us ever closer to conscious construction.


We have been executing this on a current project, and the client has been extremely pleased to gain such a deep understanding of his yacht’s impact across both the build and subsequent life cycle.

Sustainability Focus: Oceanco has a commitment to sustainability. Can you discuss the technologies and practices you’ve implemented to make yachting more eco-friendly?


Sustainability in yachting has been a major focus for Oceanco for around a decade now; I would argue long before it entered the mainstream for our industry. We have advanced so much in the last decade that what was once considered more ‘out there’ is now the norm, and we are looking to even more exciting ways to futureproof our yachts for the duration of their lifecycle.


The introduction of hybrid propulsion systems has been the biggest game-changer. The addition of batteries to our superyachts’ technical systems allows for peak shaving, enabling more efficient energy usage. Electromotors have reduced unpleasant noise and vibration onboard, which is a high priority for most owners.


Here is a brief summary of some major projects we have delivered or developed over the last decade, relating specifically to sustainability in yachting:




Our first flagship ‘sustainable’ project was the 106m sailing yacht Black Pearl, whose visionary owner wanted to build the most eco-conscious yacht possible. Probably her most interesting innovation is the ability to regenerate power through her sails. Her hybrid propulsion installation has two shaft lines, each with a controllable pitch propeller. In normal sailing mode, the propellers are set to minimise drag and prevent the shafts from turning. But to harvest some of that kinetic energy to be stored and used onboard, the pitch of the propellers is altered to create a lifting force as the water passes over them. This rotates the shafts, which are connected to a permanent magnet electric propulsion motor, effectively converting the wind energy that is moving Black Pearl through the water into electrical energy.


With the system reaching its full potential, Black Pearl is able to achieve a zero-emission transatlantic crossing where both propulsion and hotel services are powered by the wind alone. We are able to turn back the clock to a time when oceanic travel was emission-free, except now with all the comfort and luxury provided onboard a modern yacht.




Then came our LIFE Design approach – standing for Lengthened, Innovative layout, Fuel efficient, and Eco-conscious – successfully tackled with engineering partner Lateral. It was first used on the 109m (357ft) Bravo Eugenia, which we delivered in 2018. The team focused on hydrodynamics: The resistance performance of a yacht is significantly influenced by its length at the waterline and its weight. In naval architecture, we call this the ‘length displacement ratio.’ If you have two vessels of the same weight, the longer one will have a reduced overall demand for propulsion power, and consequently a reduced size of engine and related equipment is needed. It is a simple principle, but it is the fundamental foundation of LIFE Design. And in adopting a refined version of the hybrid propulsion system used for Black Pearl on Bravo Eugenia, even greater power advantages were conveyed to her over a conventional diesel-only system.


Thanks to LIFE Design, Bravo Eugenia’s technical space was reduced while the guest space was boosted to over 100sqm at the desirable waterline level. She exhibits best-in-class hydrodynamic efficiency and 30% less fuel usage compared to a conventional motoryacht of the same size. She also features a waste heat recovery system and integrated battery system to allow for optimal operation at all times.


Even though she can achieve speeds of up to 19 knots, Bravo Eugenia offers a relaxing setting for those onboard, thanks to reduced noise and vibration from the smaller propulsion-related equipment; and when entering ports, she goes into ‘whisper mode’ for ultimate guest comfort.




Of course, in yachting today, you can’t avoid the focus on the energy transition that’s happening – aka the move away from fossil fuels towards more eco-conscious alternatives. Future-proofing a yacht is the process of designing it to navigate this transition by anticipating the future to enable informed choices of layout, configuration, technology, and specification that will avoid obsolescence within the intended lifespan of the yacht.


Recently, we worked with long-term partners Lateral as well as MTU and ABB to develop a future-proofed system called the Energy Transition Platform (ETP), to ensure multiple technical pathways can be pursued as technologies mature during the energy transition timeline.


The ETP made its debut on Aeolus, a 131m Oceanco Tomorrow’s Design. Through its multi-stage adaptable approach, we have effectively future-proofed a path to zero emissions to minimise risk to our clients while also safeguarding the environment as best we can with the technology that will emerge as time goes on.


Since the ETP’s initial launch, the system has been adjusted and approved in principle by the ABS classification society for yachts with an LOA from 70m. This makes the ETP accessible for yachts of a considerably lower volume than other available methanol concepts and projects, allowing it to be adopted by a wide portion of the market, including Oceanco’s full range of offerings.




And beyond looking to transition to these more sustainable kinds of fuels, efficiency has a vital part to play in reducing the industry’s impact, too. It’s something we’ve been considering at Oceanco for many years now. It doesn’t just mean the efficiency of the propulsion and naval architecture – it’s also the hotel load of our yachts, aka the power used by all the other systems onboard.


Efficiency is not just about reducing consumption but also minimising waste, like waste heat recovery, for example. This feeds back to my comment about AI and machine learning giving us a vastly increased capacity to analyse and improve what we are implementing on our yachts in a faster and more efficient way.


Challenges in Innovation: What are the biggest challenges you face when integrating new technologies into custom yacht builds, and how do you overcome them?


None of us can solve today’s challenges – such as sustainability and circularity – on our own. We need to collaborate within our networks and across industries, sharing knowledge to reduce risk and avoid reinventing the wheel.


At Oceanco, we have a vision for creating a more sustainable future through various designs and concepts that have already been revealed; but there remain some challenges in technology readiness, maturity, and the scale of commercial availability required for integration into a project. To overcome this, we have worked with partners to create the Energy Transition Platform (ETP), as outlined above, where we equip today’s yachts with matured, advanced, and readily available technology while allowing for future upgrades when new technology has matured.


In addition, whereas in the past, innovation was often made possible by improving one technical area at a time, today we can make even more impactful advances through integrated technological systems that draw from all kinds of disciplines. As a yacht builder, this makes it even more important for us to have a clear vision for innovation and to manage the process well.

Collaborations: Could you highlight any significant partnerships with tech firms or designers that have influenced Oceanco’s technological advancements?


Collaboration and partnership have always been major drivers of our innovation at Oceanco. The achievements of Black Pearl and Bravo Eugenia would never have been possible without our close work with partners such as naval architects, electrical integrators, and key equipment suppliers to develop integrated solutions. Through the development of the Energy Transition Platform (ETP), we were able to go one step further by bringing together disciplines that don’t usually meet on a project, let alone share knowledge and ideas.


Client Customisation Process: How does technology enable Oceanco to meet the unique demands and visions of your clients during the customisation process?


Undoubtedly, our clients continue to challenge us in areas that are simply not possible with current applications of technology, which drives us toward innovation.


New technologies are allowing us to better visualise what the owner’s yacht will be like, which certainly helps in achieving their goals and visions.

Future Technology Trends: Which emerging technology trends do you believe will significantly impact the super yacht industry in the next decade?


With pressure from all directions to switch to a more sustainable way of operating yachts, the energy transition will undoubtedly have a major impact. We are only just beginning to see the benefits that AI might have on how we build and operate our yachts, as referred to above. It’s a dynamic and exciting time to be involved in the technological side of yachting, for sure.


Career Insights: With your extensive experience in the industry, what advice would you give to young engineers aspiring to work in yacht design and technology?


Since the onset of the industrial revolution, there has never been a period of time where the contribution of engineers has been so needed – in resolving global community challenges and contributing to corporate responsibility. Now comes the ultimate moment for engineers to stand up and develop the solutions that are vital for our future. Our world, our very existence, lies in the hands of our engineers. This is even more true for yachting, which should be pioneering the change to more sustainable and circular solutions.

Impact of Digital Tools: How have digital tools and simulations changed the way Oceanco designs and tests new yacht concepts?


Our newly developed tool for carbon footprint analysis of our yachts is a prime example, helping us assess both the build process and the life cycles after delivery.


Furthermore, digital tools have significantly improved the efficiency of our engineering and production processes. As skilled labour, knowledge, and craftsmanship become increasingly scarce, we rely more on digital tools, automation, and robotics to fill these gaps and ensure precision and quality in our work.


Vision for Oceanco’s Future: Looking ahead, what are your strategic goals for Oceanco’s technological development, and what should clients and industry watchers expect next?


Oceanco will remain an industry pioneer and strongly push to develop sustainable yachting, based upon the principle of design for transition. This commitment goes beyond the sustainability and circularity of the yachts themselves – it extends to our own practices. We will continue to focus on bringing down the footprint of our building process by reducing waste, upcycling materials, making our facilities more energy efficient, and reducing the use of sensitive materials. Our ultimate aim is to reduce the environmental footprint of both our products and our business. You can find out more about our dedicated sustainability action plan: