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Photo: Wight Shipyard Co.

South Coast companies, including those here on the Isle of Wight, are set to prosper from the launch of Arksen, a technology and innovation company who are building the most capable and efficient explorer vessels of their kind.

Developed from a desire to push boundaries of what is possible and inspired by the stories of the world’s greatest explorers, Arksen are developing, building and supporting semi-autonomous, hybrid explorer vessels, designed from the ground up to have the least impact on the environment and take adventurers to the most inaccessible corners of the world’s oceans.

After a year of planning, today a key milestone was announced; a partnership with high-speed craft and aluminium ship builder Wight Shipyard Co., based in East Cowes, who have been appointed to develop the fleet of Arksen vessels.

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Recognising the importance and value of the UK marine industry, Arksen also announced today that they are working with world-renowned naval architects Humphreys Yacht Design, based in Lymington, and award-winning Fareham based interior designers, Design Unlimited.

Isle of Wight resident Tanya Brookfield has been appointed as Executive Director, bringing expertise from her previous roles as MD of Alex Thomson Racing, co-founder of Toe in the Water, and Head of Fundraising and Communications at the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust. Her extensive multi-sector experience will have particular relevance to the Arksen Foundation, which will actively involve the Arksen owner community and provide marine institutions with sea time for scientific research to encourage and motivate the next generation of explorers, scientists and adventurers.

Peter Morton, Chief Executive of Wight Shipyard Co., has said:

“Ship building on the Isle of Wight goes back hundreds of years. The Isle of Wight builds the finest aluminium vessels in the world and this explorer yacht range fits perfectly alongside our high-speed ferry building operation. Coupled with the quality of the interior fit out that our sister company, SMS, has shown can do with the likes of Shemara and Alicia, we are confident to produce a world class vessel.

“We share similar values with Arksen, wanting to do business differently, so are delighted that we will build these forward-thinking explorer vessels with them. We expect Arksen to be a great boost for the Isle of Wight and will add to the £50 million impact we have already had on the UK balance of trade.”

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The company is the brainchild of UK based tech entrepreneur and investor Jasper Smith who, after a career spanning 30 years in the games and tech industry, has expanded and set his sights on the marine industry. Smith said:

“Building boats is a complex process and whether it’s the materials used to build the machines, or the fuels used to run them, Arksen vessels will be resource intensive and have an environmental impact, therefore it is so important to have like-minded partners such as Humphreys Yacht Design, Wight Shipyard Co. and Design Unlimited.

“We are working closely with them to design and build vessels to be the best in class in efficiency and fuel economy, as well as understand the procurement process and the supply chain for the components that we use in and during construction to ensure the vessels are fully recyclable at the end of their life. This cradle to grave approach is one that we believe will be common place in the industry within the next ten years, but we are proud to be pioneering it with our suppliers.

“My aim with Arksen is first and foremost to develop exceptional products that are built with their full lifecycle in mind; from sourcing to recycling at end of life. My second is to work with our owner community to ensure that our fleet is used in part to drive a wider and deeper understanding of the ocean ecosystem through supporting scientists, film makers, artists and journalists and providing them with a platform via which they can craft and tell their stories. I believe that this combined approach will not only make Arksen a good investment opportunity, but also allow our community to thrive and to share in a common vision for a sustainable approach to a new wave of adventure, research and exploration.”

Arksen will be launched at boot Düsseldorf on 19th January 2019, when further details of the explorer vessel’s technology and innovations, as well as the Arksen Foundation and partnerships, will be released.

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