VIDEO: Builder comments on capsize of $10 million yacht

Posted on Written by Richard Armstrong


New World Yacht Builders LLC, the Anacortes, Wash., company that does business as Northern Marine, commented on the disastrous May 18 launch of a new custom 90-foot expedition yacht.

During the launch of the $10 million yacht, named Baden and built for an owner who planned to circumnavigate the globe, the boat capsized onto its port side and settled to the bottom of the launch area.

Six people aboard escaped serious injury, but one man was trapped inside and had to be cut out through the hull. The Coast Guard is investigating the accident.

Video courtesy of

“Since the casualty, there has been much speculation as to what happened, often with little or no supporting evidence,” the company said in a statement Thursday. “Northern Marine has launched more than 35 vessels, ranging from 57- to 151-foot motoryachts, with all of its trawler models having been launched using transport dollies at the same ramp where the accident occurred on the 18th. Northern Marine continues to have complete confidence in its trawler designs, all of which have been tank-tested and passed the same United States Coast Guard stability standards applied to commercial fishing vessels operating in the North Pacific.”

The builder said it considers the launch accident an exception.

“Since the accident, the project naval architect/professional engineer has confirmed that the yacht, as designed, had adequate stability with the amount of ballast aboard at the time of launch, provided that ‘severe heeling moments’ were not induced during the launch,“ the statement said.

“Unfortunately, it appears that just such a severe heeling moment did occur during the launch. While investigations as to the cause of the capsizing are continuing, the physical evidence on, and adjacent to, the launch ramp suggests that the dolly carrying the weight of the port stern of the yacht may have suddenly dropped off the edge of the boat ramp during the launch, causing the vessel to experience a sudden list to port from which it could not recover in its light condition for launch.”


14 comments on “VIDEO: Builder comments on capsize of $10 million yacht

  1. Ismotorsport

    Sorry but i find this a poor response from the builder. Vessels are always launched in a “light condition,” including tankers and naval vessels. None behave in the manner this design did. My money is on poor compliance with the weight study analysis and bad design modifications made by the builder without proper calculation and clearance from a naval architect. The CG investigation will help to find the smoking gun but either way it’s a shame that it happened in the first place. The builders reputation is at stake as well as the jobs of all it’s workers due to this incident. Not to mention the prospective owners disappointment after all the input and waiting. Good luck to everyone involved.

  2. Kevin Kerwin

    On the video the yacht has already started to heel as it hit the water. I wonder why they didn’t discontinue the launch and pull the boat back out? And having designed several of these myself, it looks pretty topheavy to me. In fact, much of the recent “Explorer Yacht” class of designs look topheavy, which to my thinking is especially inappropriate for a yacht meant to truly go to far away places where emergency support will be minimal. If this yacht is like most ships, there still is a lot of topside weight to be added in the way of outfitting once it’s launched. It will be interesting to read the investigation results.

  3. Terry Darga

    Look, I’m no expert, but even I could see from the beginning of the video that she was heeling hard to Port. The heeling increased as she was lowered to the water. Something else is going on here!

  4. Rob Schofield, Naval Architect

    During drydocking and ship launching operations, there is a point we used to call the “Knuckle Block” instant, wherein the normal buoyancy of the fully-afloat vessel is not yet effective, and simultaneously there is a heavy load on the drydock block or launching poppet that supports the non-afloat portion of the ship. That point of support is very low on the ship, and can act as unwanted low-down “buoyancy” that skews the metacentric height calculation. Ships have frequently capsized from that effect while drydocking or launching. Dockyards almost always calculate that point in drydocking a highly-trimmed ship. A prudent shipyard should go through a buoyancy and stability calculation that incorporates that infamous “Knuckle Block” instant. Watching the video, it certainly looks like such a related casualty to me. The vessel may very well have been stable fully afloat, according to the numbers calculated, but capsized because the buoyant Metacenter + Knuckle Block point of force got below the ship’s center of gravity.

    Once heeled sufficiently, downflooding through side openings would then throw the whole ship stability system out of whack, and the ship is subsequently unstable even if fully afloat!

  5. Dick Obritz

    Sad state of affairs. Many opinions. Few Facts to date. Several intimate this was a “ballasted” vessel. My experience in construction is that the “as built” seldom matches the design calculations. Easy to go astray in the tophamper construction.

  6. Eddy

    I’m no nautical engineer but it does look disproportionate as far as what’s above and below the waterline. Even seems a little narrow on the beam.

  7. The Man

    Launching & drydocking are the most dangerous times for a ship. If the center of buoyancy & center of gravity are too much misaligned then the craft will roll to correct this. Looks to me that its a combination of not enough ballast and poor launching. Hope they can salvage this craft as it looks to be a nice one.

  8. Tim Griffin

    While I’m no Naval Architect I do have 33 years of experience as a Chief Engineer, and agree in principle with Rob Schofield’s comments, however in the video of the launch there is a lot of air being displaced at the port aft quarter indicating to me that something may have been taking on water. Rob does mention the affect of back flooding once the boat starts to heel but this is visible even before the angle of heel gets starts to accelerate. I also noticed the transom door was open and with the angle of the ramp could have been a source of flooding even without heeling. with the heeling any water ingested there would migrate to port and compound the heeling moment.

    It definitely seems to me that there is information missing in this incident

  9. Dan

    Enjoy the comments. There is rumor going around that the boat was modified for shallow draft
    waters. Originally was designed for 9′ and changed to 5′ and 20,000 pounds of ballast to be added after launch. Anyone guess from the video what the draft might be?

  10. capt. ted degarmo

    it sure looks like top hamper to me, I would want to carefully check any other boats of this design, load them with 55gal. drums first port then stb. this matter is just so serious.

  11. George Sass Sr.

    I heard that there was loose ballast sitting in the cockpit that was to be put in place after the launch, but it all shifted once the boat started to list…and then all hell broke loose. It should also be pointed out that this is really not the same company that built the Northern Marine expedition yachts years ago.

  12. John B.

    If one looks at the hull shape on this boat it is very shallow aft. Launching at an angled ramp would produce little initial displacement and righting moment as she enters the water, and the initial displacement would be closer to the centerline and the center of buoyancy might be very close to the center of gravity. Not good together with the other factors mentioned above.

  13. Andrew Davis

    I am a naval architect. It does not look like a launch instability to me, as the vessel is fully afloat when it capsizes. The builder’s explanation is obfuscating and self exculpatory.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive. For more information, please see our Comments Policy.

Vote Today

What's most important to you when it comes to the federal budget?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Login to Trade Only Today

Lost Password