If you are wondering what kind of a yacht a person with all the money in the world might want to build, let me tell you about the Octopus. Remember the old quote from JP Morgan when someone asked the millionaire how much it would cost to have a yacht like his? He answered; “If you have to ask how much it costs, you can't afford it.” In the case of the Octopus the late owner who had it built, had more than enough and surely did not need to ask how much. His name was Paul Allen and he, along with Bill Gates, founded Microsoft. He is reported to have been worth more than 20 billion dollars. He had homes in several countries, and he built a super-yacht called Octopus which is beyond lavish and on the level of the yachts built by oil barons of the Middle East. It is the world’s largest service yacht at 416ft.
When I thought about my dream yacht, I never considered it to be one of a fleet of yachts. Allen, at the time of his death, had a fleet of yachts, he owned two other monster yachts in addition to Octopus. His other yachts were grand, even the tender for Octopus was grand but, the grandest of them all is Octopus. For a better idea of how lavish Octopus is, here are her basic specs including her tenders.
• Launched: 01 Aug 2003, First Movement: 01 Jan 2004
• Managed: Fraser Yachts, Fort Lauderdale
• Crew: 60 permanent crew • Submarine: 40ft, 10 man Olympic - Submarine Technologies Seattle, WA.
• Main Tender: 63ft "Man of War" Vikal International - Perth, Western Australia
• Tenders: 7 x of various sizes • Dimensions: • LOA: 126.187m (414 feet) Beam: 21m (68.90ft) Draught: 5.85m (19.20ft) Breadth Mould: 21m Depth: 12.5 Net Tonnage: 2,979 mt Deadweight: 1570 mt
• Gross Registered Tonnage: 9,932 mt
• Fuel: 849,446 liters (224,400 gls) Water: 174,886 liters (46,200 gls) Range: 8,000 nm Max speed: 20 knots
• Engines: Eight x 2,400 hp Mercedes-Benz diesels + Two x 6 MW ABB electric motors
• Builder: Lurssen, Howaldtswerke - Deutsche Werft Kiel, Germany, Yard No: 370 Built: 2003 Construction: Steel
• Naval Architects: Espen Oeino, Antibes Interior Designers: Jonathan Quinn Barnett, Christian Grevstad Naval Architect: Lurssen Werft
• Flag: Cayman Islands (British), Georgetown
• Class: Lloyd's Register.
One would suppose that in the scheme of things if you are worth $20 billion dollars and growing, spending $250 million for your yacht is no big deal. This is especially true if you are not a J. Paul Getty type miserly kind of guy who keeps every nickel for himself. On the contrary, Allen was ranked the most generous living American by the Chronicle of Philanthropy after he donated $72 million dollars to various charities. Paul and his sister founded the Paul G. Allen family foundation in 1988.
Allen really worked at being a good guy. In August of 2017, his research vessel Petrel discovered the USS Indianapolis some 5,500 meters below the surface sunk to the ocean for in the North Pacific Ocean. It had been torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in the final days of World War II. The Indianapolis was in route home after delivering the atomic bombs that were eventually dropped on Japan. Then in-March of 2018, Allen’s research vessel Petrel found the sunken wreckage of the aircraft carrier USS Lexington which had lain at the bottom for 72 years. Back in March of 2015, Allen led a research team aboard the Octopus which found Mushai. She was one of the world’s largest and most advanced Japanese battleships sunk during WWII. Very much more than the plaything of a super-rich man, Octopus has provided detailed topographical data. She has assisted in rescuing disabled vessels as well.
In 2012, the Royal Navy had decided they wanted to retrieve the bell from the HMS Hood. Allen loaned Octopus to the Royal Navy in their attempt to retrieve the ship's bell from the Admiral-class battleship Hood. The Hood, which sank to a depth of 9,000 feet (2,700 m) in the Denmark Strait during World War II. HMS Hood was hit by a shell from the German battleship Bismarck, its magazines exploded, and the ship sank in minutes with a loss of over 1,400 lives. The bell was located but not recovered, due to adverse weather conditions. On 7 August 2015, it was announced that the bell from HMS Hood had been recovered by the ROV operating from Octopus. After conservation, the bell was put on display in 2016 at the National Museum of the Royal Navy Portsmouth, England. The Octopus is a member of the Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel Rescue (AMVER) program.
Octopus has very sophisticated manned resource equipment including a 10-person research submarine in its float-hanger and deep drone sub. There are two helicopters onboard, an MD900 and a Sikorsky S-76C. There are landing spaces at either end of the vessel. Her tender Man-O-War floats into its own private dock then is lifted out of the water and locked into the place. There is a full recording studio on the bridge deck Allen has loaned the studio to celebrities like Mick Jagger for use recording their music. The list of artists who recorded there includes Usher, Dave Stewart, U2, and Johnny Cash. Allen had collection guitars and was himself a guitar player.
As one might expect, there was no limit to the innovation in navigation and search systems. The rear deck sports a basketball court, a movie theater and pool with a glass bottom. There are 41 suites for the 26 guest who were lucky enough to be invited onboard. There are some 28 crew cabins. All this for a cost of $384,000 a week to operate.
While Allen had a passion for his three yachts, he also had several homes, a collection of airplanes including a Russian Mig fighter jet. He owned a Boeing 757 that he sold to Donald Trump. Two of Allen’s helicopters were assigned to the Octopus, but he also owned several others. And, of course, no billionaire’s life would be complete without them owning an Island. Allen owned his private Island in Washington and named it after a Navy Hero. Allan Island, named for a Navy hero (not the billionaire), is an almost entirely undeveloped 292-acre island jutting out of the Pacific Ocean, north of Seattle. Allan Island is one of 172 islands comprising the San Juan’s archipelago. The land boasts one modest house - a caretaker's cabin fitted with water, septic and generator. There's also a 2,400-foot grass airstrip and a boat dock, the only two means by which a person can access the island. There are rugged RV trails through the acreage and with beaches all along the coastline. Surprisingly, the island does not have electricity. Estimated for laying cable to bring in electricity are about three million dollars. Then again maybe someone who is stepped in electronics just needs to escape from time to time from the magic of electricity.
Allen owned the Seattle Sea Hawks and also bought the Portland Trail Blazers of the National Basketball Association. Paul Allen was a man who worked and played even harder.
Allen hosted a themed-party every year onboard the Octopus while docked at the Cannes film festival. Paul Allen certainly spread his wealth around and seems to have a great deal of fun doing. Unfortunately, Paul G Allan died on October 15, 2018. He was 65 years old. Co-founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates said of him, “From our early days together at Lakeside School, through our partnership in the creation of Microsoft, to some of our joint philanthropic projects over the years, Paul was a true partner and dear friend. Personal computing would not have existed without him.”