If Jacques Cousteau were alive today, he’d have built U Boat Navigator. No other private boat in the world compares to this dedicated diving vessel. Built by divers—for divers—her two custom submarines are paired with a state-of-the-art diving center for the ultimate in underwater exploration. The good news is that you don’t have to be a research scientist or marine biologist: The yacht and submersibles are available for anyone to charter through Fraser’s new Deep Blue Experience.
U Boat Navigator is the vision of father-and-son duo Eugene and Dmitry Tomashov. Both men are submarine pilots and expert diving instructors. The 79-foot boat was built in 2008 at Rena Umut Kocali, converted from a Turkish fishing trawler to a bespoke diving vessel.
She’s equipped with a custom Triton 3300/3 three-seat submersible and a custom Triton 3300/1 one-seater, which conducts tandem dives with the larger sub for safety and high-quality filming. Stored on the U Boat Navigator’s aft deck, the subs have a working depth of 3,000 feet for exploration in some of oceans’ hardest-to-reach locations.
“U Boat Navigator is a boat we built with passion, and she has become our family business,” Dmitry Tomashov told Robb Report. “We started with a scuba school and have moved to a vessel of incredible diving capabilities.” Father and son are both qualified commercial divers, stunt divers and professional film-makers, who have a combined total of over 8,000 scuba dives and more than 500 submarine dives.
An autonomous diving center on par with commercial dive vessels, U Boat Navigator is equipped with tri-mix facilities and a wet diving bell that operates to depths of 320-feet. The crew includes a doctor trained to use the specialized medical and dive equipment on board.
Despite the commercial-grade equipment, Tomashov says people of all dive abilities are welcome. “The boat was designed to perform all underwater jobs,” he says. “It was rebuilt around the decompression chamber. Then we installed the wet bell with an umbilical to provide surface-supplied gas, electrical power, communications and heated water to the scuba divers. We customized all the equipment to fit inside—from the gas panels and storage to autonomous compressors.”
The Tomashovs selected a fishing vessel to convert, because it has a low aft deck, which makes launching the submarines easier. U Boat Navigator mainly operates in the Mediterranean waters of Italy, Greece and Turkey, but also cruises in the Black Sea. The owners will consider other locations around the world. For example, later this year, the boat plans to head for the first time to the island of Ibiza in the Balearic archipelago.
Since her launch early last year, U Boat Navigator has discovered, surveyed and mapped numerous shipwrecks in the Mediterranean, including a sea mine. Among Tomashov’s favorite wrecks is HMHS Britannic, which he filmed for the television documentary series, The Mystery of Britannic. Sistership to the Titanic, it sank in 1916 in the Aegean Sea after hitting a German mine. She was discovered in 1975 by oceanographer Cousteau.
“Every dive site is different, but for me Britannic is number one because of the back story and her size–it takes an hour and a half to go around the entire site,” says Tomashov.
U Boat Navigator’s compact size provides access to tight areas that larger explorers can’t fit into, while its rigid-hulled inflatable and jet ski can take avid scuba divers to inaccessible coral reefs. The steel-hulled boat has served as a shadow vessel for larger yachts and has starred in numerous underwater documentaries. But now she will be operating as a standalone charter vessel, working with private clients, scientists and marine archaeologists.
“We have mapped ocean seagrass, located white coral reefs and discovered blunt-nose six-gill sharks in the Strait of Messina, the only place in the world where they surface to 160-feet, typically living at depths of 3,280-feet,” says Tomashov.
The boat can accommodate six guests in a double master suite and two twin cabins. A complete set of scuba equipment is included for all guests, who can even dive alongside the submarines. Bespoke charter itineraries with the Deep Blue Experience will take in multiple wreck sites and geological wonders across the Mediterranean, including active volcano Marsili, just south of Naples.
U Boat Navigator is available to charter year-round in the Mediterranean from $144,800 per week.