The West

WA firm lands yacht coup
Big build: Mark Stothard, Jurien van Rongen and Nick Gardener of Echo Yachts in the shed where they will build the new super-yacht. Picture: Ian Munro/The West Australian

A WA company has secured a $100 million-plus tender to build the biggest super-yacht made in Australia in a manufacturing coup breathing new life into the ailing Henderson shipbuilding strip.

Echo Yachts, which had 70 staff just a year ago, will surge to 250 employees within a year to realise the nautical dream of a Singaporean billionaire.

Goh Hup Jin, heir to the $3.4 billion fortune of 86-year-old paint tycoon Goh Cheng Liang, will take custody of not just one vessel, but an entire fleet.

The 84m aluminium tri-hulled super-yacht - the biggest of its kind to be built in the world - will be shadowed by a 46m fibreglass catamaran carrying nine smaller vessels including jet-skis, a dive boat, fishing boat and a hovercraft.

Another 12m fibreglass catamaran will provide luxurious transfers from the main yacht to shore and will be equipped with the latest sonar equipment to explore sunken wrecks researched by Mr Goh, a keen diver and maritime historian.

The support vessel is already being built and is due to be finished late next year.

The super-yacht is due for completion in 2017.

Echo Yachts director Mark Stothard, who estimates he has sold boats worth close to $1 billion over 30 years, said the project would be significant for the Henderson strip amid slowing demand for oil and gas service vessels.

Neighbours Austal and Strategic Marine were tapping into cheap labour overseas, so basing the project in Henderson was a vote of confidence in Australian quality.

"People will pay a bit of a premium for that," Mr Stothard said. "Timing-wise, it is perfect because there is so little activity in the rest of the shipbuilding market.

"We have already had a fair bit of interest internationally about other super-yachts now people know that we're doing it."

The main vessel's interiors and external styling will be led by Fremantle-based Sam Sorgiovanni, who designed golfer Greg Norman's record $70 million, 69.5m super-yacht in 2003.

Maryanne Edwards, chief executive of industry peak body Superyacht Australia, said the tender would be worth at least $100 million and create a huge supply chain in WA.

The West Australian

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