The Trilobis 65, a radical new boat design.

Semi-Submerged Yachts
Tech Level: 11

The Trilobis 65 is a radical new design of semi-submerged yacht, which could point to a new trend in civilian boat design for a number of purposes.

Semi-submerged vessels, which can carry a majority of their mass under the waterline, are hardly a new innovation. The Civil War warship Monitor was built with this principle, as are a number of modern vessels, including large ocean-going barges that transport fully-assembled oil drilling platforms out to sea.

However, semi-submerged vessels have traditionally been used in purely utilitarian roles. The Trilobis design means to make available this type of ship to the public at large, in roles as private yachts, leased or rented luxury living space, and as chartable tourist boats.

The vessel measures 20 meters long, 13 meters wide, and is crafted in a sleek rounded teardrop shape. But the Trilobis' most striking and commercially attractive feature is its submerged observation bay which allows a stunning 360-degree view as well as comfortable seating and accommodations. The yacht is designed to hold up to six people while at sea, and has a maximum speed of 7 knots.

The yacht is powered by a combination of fuel cells, solar power, and clean-burning diesel engines, making it fairly environmentally friendly as such vessels go. Its hull is composed of lightweight but extremely resilient composite laminate materials.

Image copyright Popular Mechanics

The Trilobis is currently envisioned as a luxury vessel and much of its interior design and accommodations reflect this. However, if proven successful, the design may be incorporated into mass-produced future vessels, allowing semi-submerged craft decades hence to enter the mainstream of civilian boating.

The ship does have several downsides aside from its steep $5 million initial price tag. The first is that because of its many new designs and power technologies, as well as the need to frequently clean the outside of the observation deck's windows, it would need much more frequent and expensive maintenance than other vessels of its size and purpose. Also, the vessel as currently designed does not work well with existing docks, especially as it would need much more bottom clearance because of its submerged observation deck. It requires a custom-designed mooring wharf that projects out onto the water and would "mate" with the rear open notch in the yacht's deck.

Image copyright Popular Mechanics


Artcicle added 1 May 2007