Rolls-Royce has signed an agreement with Italian yacht maker Benetti to produce a new generation of high performance, lightweight thrusters, which are built using advanced carbon fiber epoxy composites in its load carrying parts, for use in its “mega-yachts.” The first thruster in the series, the Azipull Carbon 65 (AZP C65), marks the first time Rolls-Royce has made extensive use carbon fiber in a steerable thruster.

The AZP C65 incorporates carbon fiber in its load-carrying parts, which makes the propulsion system’s weight significantly lighter.

“Efficient and lightweight propulsion is key to reducing the environmental impact of a modern yacht,” said Vincenzo Poerio, CEO of Benetti. “We have been working closely with Rolls-Royce on a journey towards an excellent propulsion system for our new line of exclusive megayachts. The successful result of this collaboration has been confirmed by facts, indeed five units have already been sold and more units are already under construction to shorten delivery times and meet the increasing demand for this model.”

Rolls-Royce adds the new thrusters also facilitate a better vessel layout while maintaining high propulsion efficiency, excellent maneuvering capabilities and easy maintenance. The company says the Azipull Carbon, which was initially intended for fast yachts, passenger vessels and workboats, brings to the market a “lightweight, reliable and highly efficient propulsion system with very low noise and vibration levels.”

The AZP C65 is designed for a power rating of 2 megawatts (MW) and fitted with a forward-facing propeller. The thruster can be steered using a hydraulic system. An Automation and Control system, based on Rolls-Royce’s Common Controls building blocks, has also been developed to match the new thrusters, which each weigh 2,800 kg (6,173 lbs).

The first yacht covered by the agreement, the IRONMAN, has already been delivered, and the second and third hulls are under construction. Those are expected to be completed within the next few months.