Impractical To Tactical: Omani Royal Yacht Transforms Into Navy Training Vessel
The Royal Omani Navy's training vessel is literally fit for a king.
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The superyacht universe is intriguing due to its exclusivity alone, but there is some incredible engineering going into these ultra luxurious vessels. Sometimes that includes taking what was tactical and turning into the practical—or impractical when it comes to economic frugality. We have seen old frigate hulls reborn into new cutting-edge personal luxury liners. And sometimes, the reverse occurs—older yachts morph into military vessels. This is exactly the case with the Royal Navy of Oman's Al-Mabrukah training ship.
Now wearing a muted gray paint scheme of the Royal Navy of Oman and stripped of any external signs of luxury, the vessel served a far different role up until recently.
The latest photo of Al-Mabrukah was posted on Twitter by Jeremy Binnie of Jane's Defense Weekly:
The 340-foot long pleasure yacht was built by renowned Italian shipbuilder Picchiotti in 1982 for Sultan Qaboos bin Said. Its ornate interior was designed by local interior design group Oman Rys and it's accouterments were largely preserved during an extensive refit in 2009. In fact, the ship's motif looks similar to an Omani Royal Flight 747-SP of the same era. You can see a complete set of photos of the exterior and interior here.
The lineage of the ship itself, and especially the shell game of monikers it has sailed under, is as confusing as it is interesting. It was named for Al-Said for nearly 25 years. Whatever ship is serving as the principal royal yacht for Oman's Sultan is always named Al-Said after the country's ruling family. With only a small number of ships in the Royal Navy of Oman overall, the country routinely recycles other names, as well.
When Oman took delivery of the present Al-Said—a 508 foot long megayacht built by Germany's Lurssen shipyard and delivered in 2008—it shifted this older yacht to the country's Ministry of Tourism, where it gained the name Loaloat Al-Behar—translated 'Pearl of The Seas' in English. Now, after the better part of a decade acting as a charter vessel, she has ended up joining in the Omani Navy as a training ship under the name Al-Mabrukah.
The previous Al-Mabrukah, which had the pennant number Q30, had itself served as the Al-Said yacht until 1983, when she also became a naval training ship. In 1997, Oman began using her a patrol ship and pulled the ship from service altogether in 2014. Cyprus bought that ship, renamed it the Alasia, and commissioned her in February 2017 (shown in the tweet below).
You can see exactly what the Loaloat Al-Behar interior's interior looked like after her late 2000s refit in the awesomely bad charter promotion reel below. It was quite lavish considering the age of the hull, but in a nostalgic sense and was still dated in appearance by modern high-tech superyacht standards. The vessel was could fetch up to around $290,000 per week for exclusive charter excursions.
It remains unclear as to the current interior configuration of the yacht turned training ship or if it still serves in some sort of VIP, liaison, or entertainment role of any kind. In fact, the vessel appears to have been for sale for an unknown amount of money prior to it being ported over to the Royal Navy of Oman. Who knows, maybe for the right price the ship could be acquired today. But considering that Oman is supposedly happy gifting one of the world's most expensive private jets to a friendly ruler, it's not like the oil-rich sultanate really needs the money.
Still, with its helicopter landing pad, ample small boat storage, and plenty of space—during its charter days it could sail with a crew of 80 and up to 180 passengers for day excursions and 28 guests in 14 cabins on longer charters—maybe the newly minted Al-Mabrukah will end up serving as a naval patrol ship like its predecessor.
So there you have it, the Al-Said turned Loaloat Al-Behar turned Al-Mabrukah, yet another odd-ball story in the sometimes happy and sometimes tragic lives of the world's largest yachts.
Contact the author: Tyler@thedrive.com