Bannenberg & Rowell was formed by Jon Bannenberg, a designer of English-Austrian descent. He is, in some ways, among the most unlikely people to have become a world-class superyacht designer. He began his career in music making a living during his early life by playing piano in a variety of bars and clubs. Nautical design, however, was always his passion. He made a name for himself in 1961 when a client of his approached him with the design of a luxury yacht, which Bannenberg sneered at. A challenge was laid, “if you’re so bloody smart, do it yourself!”
And Bannenberg did. His design became the talk of London when the ship was revealed during the 1963 London Boat show, and the rest is, as they say, history. Since that time, Bannenberg’s company has designed more than two hundred of the finest yachts the world has ever seen, and Jon Bannenberg himself is widely credited for revitalizing the industry in the post-World War II era.
But enough about the company itself, let’s talk about some of the most fabulous creations they’ve designed.
Kingdom 5KR began life in 1980, and has had a colorful history. When she was originally christened as “Nabila,” after the daughter of the original owner, Saudi billionaire Adnan Khashoggi. Later, she appeared in a James Bond film, “Never Say Never Again,” as the movie villain’s mobile headquarters.
Sold to Donald Trump, the American Businessman and current Republican candidate for President, she became, for a time, known as the Trump Princess. Her current owner, and founder of the Kingdom Holding Company, is Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud, a member of the Saudi Royal Family, and the 34th richest man on the planet, often referred to as the “Arabian Warren Buffett.” Last year, Al-Waleed announced that he was donating his entire fortune (estimated at some $28 billion) to charity at an unspecified date. It is uncertain what will become of the Kingdom 5KR at that point.
She spans a beautiful 86 meters, and while the exterior is 100% Bannenberg, the interior styling was performed by Luigi Sturichio. When she was built, she was among the largest yachts in the world. Featuring five decks, a private cinema on-board with seating for twelve, and a disco, the yacht also features its own helicopter pad. She has a crew of 48, and a top speed of 20 knots (cruising speed of 17.5 knots). A true wonder, by any definition.
Delivered in 2004, just two years after Jon Bannenberg’s death, the Rising Sun was one of the famed designer’s last creations. Designed for none other than Larry Ellison, of Oracle fame, who is also an experienced yachtsman, this magnificent ship is an impressive 138 meters in length, and is an amazingly fast ship for its size, with a top speed of 28 knots. Powered by four MTU diesel engines and quadruple screw, she’s capable of going just about anywhere, and getting you there quickly, and in lavish style and comfort, which is exactly what you’d expect from a superyacht designed for one of the internet world’s biggest stars.
The very existence of the Carinthia VI was pure happenstance, owing to the fact that the Carinthia V had such a tragically short life, before it foundered just off the coast of Greece, and its waterlogged owner, Helmut Horten, had to swim ashore. He was on the phone immediately to Jon Bannenberg though, to have a replacement for the Carinthia V commissioned, and thus, the Carinthia VI was born.
Considered a radical, and even dangerous superyacht design when it was delivered, the Carinthia VI has an almost military look and feel to it, per the request of Mr. Horten, who was a fan of military history himself, and wanted a superyacht with a more austere look and feel to it, if any superyacht can truly said to be austere. Bannenberg succeeded in creating a superyacht that met the owner’s requirements, delivering power and precision with slim, sleek lines that retained some of their military heritage. Today, far from being seen as radical or dangerous, she’s known for her sense of sleek style and restraint rarely seen in the superyacht world today.
Powered by 3 massive MTU diesel engines, with a cruising speed of 22 knots, and a maximum speed of 28 knots, she had room to accommodate up to 12 guests in a total of five suites. Sadly, she was destroyed by fire in January 2016, in a Turkish port. The Carinthia VII has already been commissioned to replace her.
No listing of superyachts would be complete without a reference to Limitless. Built in 1997 by German shipmaker Lurssen, and designed by Jon Bannenberg, with interiors by Francois Catroux, this 96 meter wonder is powered by two massive engines, and can reach a top speed of 25 knots. She was the first superyacht to feature a combination of diesel and electric propulsion. With room for up to twelve guests in five suites and crewed by twenty experienced seamen, she’s one of the crown jewels of the water today.
Limitless is currently owned by Les Wexner, an American businessman who owns a variety of businesses, but most notably, Victoria’s Secret.
Kilkea is brand new and has not actually been launched or delivered yet, but is the latest design by Bannenberg and Rowell. The design team is being led by Jon Bannenberg’s son, who took control of the company after his father’s passing in 2002, due to an inoperable brain tumor. This 270-foot wonder is designed for extended expeditions in light ice, and as such, it can go just about anywhere on the planet, and stay out to sea for up to a month without ever having to come to port. Based on a supply-vessel platform, this superyacht sips fuel, and ins among the most efficient yachts ever to be commissioned.
Don’t think for a moment, however, that it skimps on comfort. The finished ship will be able to accommodate up to 36 guests in comfort and style, giving them access to both an indoor and outdoor swimming pool, and a full helicopter pad and hanger. While the particulars of the design are still being hammered out, current plans are to include a mini-submersible craft as a runabout, and an underwater observation room. The yacht will also include, of course, all the latest technologies like dynamic positioning and joystick maneuvering to make it easy to dock.