According to Super Yacht News this week, the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency made an announcement that it has approved the new construction of twin cabin configurations for seafaring yachts and commercial yachts. This is an exciting news for yachts for sale in the UK and the Superyacht Builders Association. These new superyachts will be expected to comply with all of the requirements of the standard A3.1 of the Convention. This convention states that individual sleeping rooms must be provided for all crew members on such seagoing vessels.
Yachts for sale the UK will soon offer these new superyachts which will conform to this minimum requirement for new vessels of this size. The convention impacts superyachts in the 3000gt to 5000gt class. According to Chris van Hooren, technical director of SYBAss, in order to reduce the economic impact of this requirement, the crew cabins will necessarily be small and awkward, meeting only the minimum allowable standards of comfort. For example, they will contain recessed bunks and probably no en suite facilities. Current yachts for sale the UK in this class contain a single large cabin for crew members. These current yachts offer a number of comforts, including en suite, which must be eliminated to employ the one crew member, one cabin policy.
The seafarer’s Union, Nautilus International is in stern disagreement with this policy, and their representative Garry Elliot says, “It does seem interesting that it is felt that a 5000gt yacht cannot be designed to accommodate crew in a single cabin. What Nautilus is keen to ensure is that the UK does not progress a concerted effort to apply everything to a minimum requirement and this cannot be about a race to the bottom.” Chris van Hooren in response made this statement: “One of the key roles of SYBAss is to facilitate regulations that reflect the unique nature of the superyacht industry. This decision by the MCA helps support a level playing field for the large yacht sector.”
It is apparent that this is a debate which may continue for some time. Regardless of the fact the Large Commercial Yacht Code or LY3, does include a section on what is considered to be a substantial equivalent when it comes to the accommodation regulations pertaining to crew members, these equivalents are not prevailing in the current seafaring superyachts. What one fraction believes is a level playing field and the opinion of the other side, may be two entirely different things. Unions are designed to protect worker’s rights, and Nautilus International is no different. It is difficult to believe that they will not protest this new convention, because for all intent and purpose, it is a reduction in crew member benefits. In turn, others believe that this may evidence a positive step for the commercial superyacht sector, which is attempting to leave its mark on the superyacht industry.
It remains to be seen how this debate will resolve itself, and what the final version of the crew accommodations on the new commercial superyachts will be. Time will tell.