Star Clippers has been in discussions with shipyards to build a new five-masted vessel for the line for delivery in 2010. Set to be the largest, most expensive sailing vessel ever constructed, the 7,400-gross-ton barque is modeled on France II, which at 5,000 gross tons was the world's largest sailing ship when it was launched in 1912.
The ship will be 518 feet long (157 meters) and 61 feet at the beam (18.5 meters) with a draft of 20 feet (6 meters). The five-masted vessel will carry 37 sails for a total of 68,350 square feet (6,350 square meters) of sail surface area. The rig will extend 217 feet (65 meters) above the waterline, and the open Sun Deck area will be an expansive 8,200 square feet (2,500 square meters).
The ship has been designed to make it capable of operating independently of any port infrastructure. With its Ice Class C hull, extra heavy anchor gear, davit dampening system and specially modified tenders, the ship will be able to sail virtually anywhere in the world.
Although 48 percent larger than Star Clippers' Royal Clipper -- currently the largest full-rigged sailing ship in the world -- the newbuild will carry only 30 percent more passengers, with a double-occupancy capacity of 296 and a crew of 140.
The ship will have two 592-square-foot (55 square meters) owner's suites that each can be divided into two separate cabins with their own verandas. Thirty deluxe suites of 323 square feet (30 square meters) and two deluxe deck cabins measuring 215 square feet (20 square meters) will have private verandas as well. There will be 104 outside cabins of 162 square feet (15 square meters) and 10 inside cabins measuring 129 square feet (12 square meters).
Shipboard facilities will include a two-level dining room capable of accommodating all passengers in one seating, a private dining room for groups of 50 or less, a Piano Lounge for dancing and evening music and cocktails, a two-level Tropical Bar that enables all passengers to comfortably view or participate in lectures, games and evening shows, a multipurpose Club Room that can convert to a 160-person conference room, a Dive/Sports Bar with music and televisions tuned to sporting events, an observation room just forward of the large open bridge, a library located aft providing spectacular views, and spa and gymnasium.
A retractable marina on the stern will provide access for watersports, snorkeling and diving. The ship will feature three swimming pools. The trademark Star Clippers midship glass-bottom pool will filter light down from the Sun Deck through the Piano Lounge to the Dining Room. The aft pool will feature a unique swim tube -- to be used for scuba training -- that extends down through the Dive/Sports Bar and into the Library.
The newbuild also will feature two shell doors in the hull to facilitate embarkation, either from a dock or on and off tenders. Two hydraulic side platforms are provided for tendering and watersports activities.
Four twin-engine Fassmer lifeboats/tenders have been modified to comfortably land passengers on beaches, even in heavy surf. The ship also will have four diesel-powered semi-rigid rescue/sport boats for use on expeditions and excursions as well as for water skiing, diving and chase boats.
The newbuild is being constructed to the highest environmental, safety, comfort and security specifications to qualify for Det Norske Veritas certification. The propulsion system is diesel-electric, employing two Caterpilar generators that burn clean low-sulphur marine gas, instead of heavy fuel oil, supplying two Siemens electric propulsion motors to drive the twin screws.
France II was built by Chantiers de la Gironde in Bordeaux, France, for the New Caledonia nickel ore trade. While primarily a cargo vessel, France II also was outfitted as a passenger vessel, becoming one of the earliest cruise ships, complete with a piano bar, library, dark room and the world's first shipboard seawater spa. The newbuild will be similar to France II, though not identical -- it will have a wider beam to meet modern stability requirements, but the rigging and sail plan will be the same. It also will have the same livery as France II, even down to the gun ports painted on the hull.