The height of the masts of the superyacht, commissioned by millionaire American businessman Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, is no longer a problem for the city of Rotterdam. Built in 1927 in the city’s port, the 127 meter long Dutch bridge called De Hef (The Elevator) had to be dismantled so the huge ship could cross it and reach the North Sea with sticks already placed. Faced with the criticism and risk of vandalism that this possibility triggers, the construction company Oceanco has decided to transfer the ship without masts to a shipyard in the port complex, from where it will set sail without any problems. The transport took place this Tuesday and it is no longer necessary to obtain permission from the Rotterdam City Council to dismantle the central section of De Hef, which goes up and down and is one of the city’s landmarks.
The yacht’s code is Project Y721 and Royal van der Wees, the transport company in charge of the voyage, confirmed the displacement but declined to comment further when asked by this newspaper. The ship was in a shipyard about 28 kilometers from its current destination: Greenport Rotterdam. It is an installation that will be given the finishing touches “in a work phase that is regularly carried out in the port of Rotterdam for all types of boats imported from different countries”, explains René Quist, director of the nautical newspaper Schuttevaer.
The departure of large ships from the Dutch shipyard into the sea is a spectacle that usually attracts a large audience. In the case of Jeff Bezos’ ship, which will be the largest ship ever visited by Oceanco, the tour would have been very attention-grabbing and beneficial from a public relations perspective. However, Quist believes “the controversy has been unleashed on social media [donde se llegó a animar a lanzar huevos al paso del buque] It has to do with the conflict between the historic weight of the De Hef Bridge and its symbolic value to the city and what we might call the new rich, easily pulling the checkbook.” Bezos is a 2022, according to the magazine’s list the second richest man in the world with an estimated fortune of 159 billion euros. forbes. The Bloomberg agency estimates the cost of the ship at 430 million. Oceanco, in turn, is a construction and shipyard company in the Netherlands, owned and presidented by Omani businessman Mohamed al Barwani.
De Hef is the colloquial nickname for the bridge that appeared to be in danger, although it’s actually called Koningshavenbrug (something like King’s Harbor Bridge) and is a national monument. Built for train traffic, it was damaged in May 1940 during the Second World War when Rotterdam was bombed. It was one of the first structures to be later restored and although it lost its function decades ago with the opening of a railway tunnel, today it is one of the engineering works that gives the Dutch city its face and connects the island of Noordereiland with the Feijenoord- Quarter. Its middle section has a clear height of a remarkable 46 meters, which is not enough for Bezos’ yacht to come by with the mast standing. In the end, despite the fact that the city council is considering the possibility of issuing a twice-yearly permit to dismantle this bridge, subject to strict conditions, and although the costs would be borne by Oceanco, the company has chosen to avoid risks. For reasons of confidentiality, she does not comment on this either. At the end of June this year, City Councilor Vincent Karremans informed that the heart of De Hef would not be dismantled in the short term because Oceanco had not applied for the relevant permit. It is no longer necessary.