Ultra G has a secret lifesaving superpower

Ultra G is a yacht that breaks a lot of new ground, even by the standards of Heesen yachts. Toting 22,000hp and a 37-knot top speed, Heesen’s most recent launch is also its most powerful yacht. And she is the first we’ve ever built with the innovative U Safe rescue system concealed aboard.

U Safe is a totally unique rescue buoy which is self-powered. Unlike traditional life rings, which the casualty must swim towards or reach for in potentially difficult conditions, U Safe can be actively steered by remote control. A member of the crew can therefore direct the buoy quickly and safely to the person who requires help.

The owner’s representative explains why he wanted the system on Ultra G. “While Heesen owners pride themselves on the pedigree of their fast aluminium semi-displacement yachts, that same speed could have potentially dire consequences in the (thankfully unlikely) event of a Man Overboard (MOB) situation. Speed increases the separation distance between the person going into the water, and the bridge finally getting the information and reacting.

“U Safe brings an added reactionary capability to reach the person overboard, driving the remote control ‘lifebuoy’ directly to them, so I was happy to bear the extra cost of adding it to the MOB system. In rough conditions or rocky areas, it is particularly valuable, preventing both the rescuer and the vessel from entering the danger zone. The remote control will operate up to 800m away.”

In a first for the superyacht industry, U Safe worked hand-in-glove with Heesen engineers to develop an invisible launch system. As a piece of lifesaving equipment, the buoy is naturally bright orange, so it was desirable to keep it out of sight in order to maximise the impact of Ultra G’s striking high-contrast paint scheme. Developed by Frank Laupman of Omega Architects, the desert tan hull with black and red stripes is a signature for this muscular yacht.

“The U Safe is mounted behind a hatch on the starboard side, in front of the steering station on the wheelhouse deck,” says Bob van Zundert, Heesen’s shipyard captain. “From the outside it is not visible – you can only see the outlines of the hatch. Of course, we wanted the yacht to look as clean as possible on the outside, and that means that we did not want any lines or edges on the exterior.”

U Safe’s technical team were handed a set of specifications, which included the dimensions available and the mechanism for opening the bulwark hatch. “Also, the angles of opening and the automatic release needed some attention before installing,” says van Zundert. Armed with this information, U Safe were able to design a special version of their standard induction-charging cradle which doubled as a launching device that deployed as soon as the hatch had fully opened.

“It’s a very smart mechanism that only uses gravity, so it’s bullet-proof!” says U Safe chief technology officer José Mogas. “We considered this many times over, but if we had put some kind of actuator on the launcher, we were concerned that it could create problems in the future. We incorporated a special damping system, so the launch is not a sudden movement that puts the buoy or the boat at risk.”

In this way, the buoy is always ready for launch. Smart charging algorithms have been built in to ensure that the lithium-ion battery in the buoy and the remote control are always in prime condition. Once the batteries are fully charged, the electronics switch into stand-by mode, which they can maintain for over a year. This also minimises the energy draw on Ultra G’s systems.

Highly manoeuvrable whichever way up it lands, and with a top speed of 15kmh, it’s hard to imagine that regular safety drills with the U Safe won’t bring a degree of excitement. In fact, the twin water jets on this 14kg vehicle are so powerful they can transport two people. “If you see that the casualty needs medical or other help, then U Safe can take you there and bring both people back,” says Mogas.

Let’s hope that Ultra G never needs to call on this high-tech rescue equipment. But at least she is ready to react if someone does fall overboard. She can also provide an effective first response if someone nearby gets into difficulties in the water.

Written by Sam Fortescue





Mark Cavendish   Chief Commercial Officer

| Robert Drontmann   Sales Director

Heesen Yachts North America

Thom Conboy   Agent North-America, Mexico, Bahama's & Caribbean