Detroit Eagle — By George
L. Petrie — January 2002
Formula For A Winner
|Part 2: Detroit Eagle continued|
Reflecting the "clean room" image, the engine room itself is a model of minimalist design, the only visible components being a pair of 3,650-hp MTU-DDC Series 4000 diesels flanking a 5,600-hp Detroit Diesel TF50 gas turbine. The overheads and walls are surfaced with flat aluminum panels painted glossy white with crisp red and black horizontal accent stripes. Almost as if he had read my mind, chief engineer David Wilder lifted the corner of a small one, then easily took it from its magnetic mounts and placed it to one side, revealing a pump mounted on a rack. The answer to my unspoken question was that all auxiliary equipment is concealed by similar lightweight panels firmly held in place by small magnets but easily removed by just lifting a corner. No screws or fastenings, no protruding handles, just smooth, clean side walls all around.
Even though most auxiliaries are hidden from view, a digital console lets Wilder monitor all systems from the comfort of an enclosed control room. At the core of the yacht’s digital brain is a Seimens 400 PLC (programmable logic controller) that processes input from the DDECs and the Full Authority Digital Electronic Control systems (an electronic engine control system for the gas turbine) and drives the digital displays.
Wilder, who worked with Feadship’s craftspeople outfitting the engine room during the last year of construction, was eager to show me other features that revealed Penske’s influence. For starters, the MTU-DDC diesels are fitted with Cincinnati Gear epi-cyclic gearboxes: The input and output shafts are on the same axis so the engines can be as low as possible in the hull, thus lowering the yacht’s center of gravity. To save weight, the shaft connecting the gas turbine and its waterjet is a laminated carbon fiber tube about 18 inches in diameter. Running on just the twin 3,650-hp diesels (turning 50-inch-diameter Lips propellers), Detroit Eagle cruises at 20 to 22 knots, with a top speed of 24 to 26 knots. Bringing the 5,600-hp TF50 gas turbine and waterjet online boosts the top speed to about 33 to 35 knots. Flat out, the 12,900-hp package guzzles fuel at a rate of some 700 gph.
Beneath the engine room’s honeycomb-cored aluminum walkways, I could see for myself the deep longitudinal girders and transverse frames that form the backbone of the aluminum hull. Like a racecar’s, the yacht’s running surfaces are simple and clean, with propeller pockets and a moderate V at the stern to reduce draft and a fine entry with steep deadrise at the bow.
To keep the yacht’s lines as smooth and aerodynamic as possible, the superstructure is low and the pilothouse is relatively well aft. Further enhancing the clean appearance, tenders are stowed out of sight in a cavernous garage that takes up most of the forward portion of the deckhouse and is accessed through a large panel hinged along the side.
Looking out over the long, low foredeck from the pilothouse or from the flying bridge helm station, I felt as though I was in the driver’s seat of a low-slung racing machine. A bank of custom digital displays at both helm positions lets the captain keep tabs on all systems and equipment.
But I don’t mean to imply that Detroit Eagle is all about engineering. On the contrary, she is as finely detailed and luxurious as you would expect from Feadship, with a beautifully executed interior designed by John Munford. Looking at the meticulous fit and finish, one would never guess that the deckhouse above the first deck is built of fiberglass and carbon fiber or that the interior bulkheads are honeycomb-cored to reduce weight and keep the center of gravity low. Nor would one guess that the luxurious furnishings are built of lightweight materials or that the richly toned madrona and lighter anigre interior joinery are veneer, vacuum-bagged over a foam or honeycomb core.
But not everything on the yacht is lightweight. Like any good diet, the diligent weight management program allowed a few indulgences. For example, in the main deck lounge, along the stairwell to the lower deck, there’s a massive stainless steel railing specified by Penske. Brilliantly lacquered finishes on the interior joinery give Detroit Eagle a sharply defined, contemporary air. In counterpoint, soft textures and simple patterns in the furnishings make the interior feel warm and inviting. Particularly effective is the use of woven leather wall covering in the main stairwell and on the bulkheads enclosing the air-intake plenums, creating a welcoming texture in space that otherwise might have felt stark.
Accommodating the large engine room air-intake plenums posed a particular challenge, since they blocked a portion of the deckhouse that otherwise would have been allocated to windows. To compensate, a wide doorway from the saloon lets natural light flood forward into the dining room. Because the dining room is often used as a conference room, it can be closed off from the saloon by a beautiful etched-glass sliding door.
To give the yacht a more spacious feel, interior doors have been minimized. For example, a raised lounge area aft of the pilothouse affords wonderful views forward and to both sides, and in the owner’s stateroom, partitions offer complete privacy in bathing and dressing areas without the need to close a door.
In all respects, Detroit Eagle exemplifies a winning formula. And if the careful planning, meticulous execution, and flawless details weren’t suggestive enough of Penske’s involvement in Detroit Eagle, the impressive array of racing helmets displayed in the pilothouse were a dead giveaway.
Feadship Phone: (954) 761-1830. Fax: (954) 761-3412. www.feadship.com.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.