Rowe Surveys

your project

New Build and Refit Supervision

During the construction of a large yacht or the refit of an existing vessel, there are real benefits in having an independent surveyor acting in the direct interests of the Owner and Project. Many parties are involved in bringing everything together including the Designer, Yard, Subcontractors, Interior Designers, Classification Societies, Charter Coding Inspectors, Flag Sates, Project Managers and above all, the Owner.

The supervising surveyor's role is to assimilate the requirements of this group, providing technical advice where necessary, and then help to make sure the collective requirements are carried out.

In effect, constant quality control monitoring. We will keep an ongoing record with text and photographs that builds into a comprehensive 'history' of the build. Every visit is followed by a technical report that describes problems and defects with detailed recommendations on how they might be solved.

Our experience has shown that the following services are highly relevant.

The ideal team consists of the Project Manager, Yacht Captain and Supervising Surveyor. It is very common for the Captain to be the Project Manager unless on a very large or a specialist vessel. In these situations it is also useful for the Chief Engineer to become closely involved in the fitting out stages.
It is essential to note that the Project Manager cannot be the Surveyor and the Surveyor cannot be the Project Manager. It simply doesn't work. Testimonials - Benetti Sail Division , Ergun Tuc (Maxi 84 refit)

Preliminary feasibility and cost

In extreme cases of concept yachts the selection of materials, builder and general feasibility can be worth some investment and risk assessment. It may not be possible to fully predict costs but it should be possible to get them into a maximum and minimum range.

In most other cases, the selection of the yacht itself determines the Builder and they will have benchmarks based on sister-ships or similar models.

In a sense, refits are more complicated and the cost / benefit can be a really useful exercise. Analysis here can help separate subjective and objective requirements in relation to the value of the vessel before and after the refit.

Specification preparation and review

This is fundamentally important. A good specification is like a good map. It should easy to read and contain enough detail to get you from A to B without detours or confusion at crossroads. A good specification will not go over the top however, and be overloaded with detail such that flexibility is totally removed. The Yard will have their specification and so will the Owner. These two have to be brought together and checked for conflict. We will perform this function by reviewing the document and also bring to the table, experience of innovations or well proven technology from other projects. The Specification becomes the most important reference during the project.

Periodic inspections

This is the nuts and bolts of the surveyors work. On a typical new build duration of around 24 months the yacht will be visited around 12-15 times depending on construction material and complexity. A composite construction will generally require closer supervision as the structural elements are made by combining materials in situ ie Resins and Fabrics. In a steel or aluminium construction the material is pre-manufactured to a controlled specification and 'assembled' in situ.
There can be some forward planning to the visits and key stages of construction will dictate the timing. Other visits will be initiated by events as they unfold particularly in terms of troubleshooting. The intervals at the early stages of a metal construction may be quite long. Activity obviously becomes much more intense towards the completion date particularly when the yacht is teeming with subcontractors all competing for their space and time.
It becomes a huge advantage if either the Project Manager or the Captain is in full time attendance during the fitting out stages. He will then 'call' a visit from our surveyors if the problem cannot be resolved remotely. This daily input ensures little problems do not become big problems.
There is no doubt, that once an open and trusting relationship has been developed with the Yard, the ultimate goal of getting the best possible outcome with the minimum delay is achieved. Everyone benefits.

Technical inspections and testing

In certain circumstances supplementary testing might be required on an independent basis. There are a whole series of tests carried out by the yard and witnessed by the Classification Society but where there is controversy or areas of very specific concern, we can perform or arrange specialist testing. These may include: Weld testing, Barcol Hardness testing and Ash testing of composites, Dye Penetrant testing, Pressure testing, Sound level measurement, Vibration measurement, emission testing, paint testing and oil sampling. Other tests can be arranged on request.

Compliance with statutory and voluntary standards

It is universal practice for Large Yachts to be built according to industry standards and this is accomplished by building and fitting out in accordance with Classification Society Rules. If the vessel is also used for commercial purposes ie Charter or Sail Training, the rules may be extended depending on the Gross Tonnage and additionally the vessel will have to comply with a Large Yacht Code through a Flag State. The most widely used authority is the MCA either directly or through a Red Ensign State.
The yard will be contracted to comply with the relevant rules and the Classification has a duty to carry out checks during construction. It is essential to remember two things. Firstly the contract is between the Classification Society and the Yard, not with the Owner. The second thing is that all rules set minimum values and requirements. This is an entirely logical principle in the statutory control of design, construction and operational safety issues. These Rules are not quality standards and therefore a gap often exists between the minimum criteria in the Rules and Yard practice or Best Industry practice. We can help close this gap ensuring that everything possible is done to enhance the quality of the project. This is usually obtained with no negative impact on costs or delivery. The very tangible benefit is in the value of the completed asset and reduced depreciation and operating costs. This can make a very big difference after as little as five years in service.

Referral of construction stage to contractual payments

The Contract will specify the triggers for stage payments. These should be clearly defined and relate to the physical advancement of construction and not to calendar dates. We can provide a formal statement that the construction has reached the trigger point for stage payment. Sometimes this can be combined with a normal periodic visit. Sometimes a special visit might be necessary. We will discuss with the Yard exactly what we will need to see and what certificates should be available in advance of these stages to reduce the risk of delay or differences of opinion.

Attendance at machinery testing and sea trial

The contract and specification will govern certain key parameters. Clearly all installed equipment has to work reliably and as designed. At this stage we like to be able to see one of our project members being able to work the equipment correctly as well as the standard tests performed by the subcontractor or installer. This simulates operational conditions much more accurately.
The contract may well set values for range, speed, noise limits, vibration limits etc with financial penalties if they are not achieved. In extreme cases non-conformance could lead to rejection of the vessel in which case we are already on hand to provide supporting evidence.
The machinery testing and sea trial invariably produces some kind of snag list. We will ensure that the snag list is comprehensive and realistic. We also expect to provide technical input into solving any difficulties.

Pre-acceptance inspections

The final payment is normally due at acceptance. The golden rule is make sure that everything is properly in order before signing acceptance and this needs close attention. If there are items not solved prior to acceptance it is essential that ther are formally notified to the yard and they will become Warranty issues by default. It is a fact of life that warranty items are more difficult to resolve not least because a warranty will always contain conditions that are not necessarily in favour of the owner. A common example is that the vessel may be required to return to the yard and the cost of delivery is down to the owner. Our role therefore is to confirm the resolution of as many snags as possible before final acceptance.

Warranty and Performance cross-checking

It is always best to have the warranty in place for unforeseen problems. We strongly recommend that anything covered by Warranty is not tackled by the Crew. There will undoubtedly be commercial and operational pressure for this to take place but the biggest risk is that this will invalidate the warranty.
We can have a useful role in supporting warranty claims and helping to ensure work or replacement is undertaken agreed.


Frequently, yachts are designed, built, put into service and generally work just as intended but we can play a highly constructive part in improving the outcome as guardians of quality.

Tim Rowe - Consulting Yacht Surveyor • C/ Levant 4A 2B, 07157 Port Andratx, Mallorca
Tel. +34 609 97 87 02 • Email: Website credits