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Underwater toy for the rich

By Judy Martel · Bankrate.com
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Posted: 6 am ET

Rich yacht owners have been going to great lengths to impress in the past decade. But if sheer size isn't enough to elicit awe, owners can always launch their personal submarine to transport guests into the wonders of the deep.

The world's largest private yacht, Azzam, is easily able to accommodate a personal submarine onboard.

The world's largest private yacht, Azzam, is large enough to accommodate a personal submarine onboard.

Four submarine vendors, who debuted at the glitzy Monaco Yacht Show last week, are betting that the game of "billionaires with the most toys" will result in a desire to brag about personal explorations into the world below the boat.

The one-upmanship among the superrich has already fueled production of staggeringly large yachts, easily able to accommodate a sub or two onboard. The 590-foot Azzam, launched earlier this year, is the largest private yacht in the world. Many of these floating behemoths (400-feet-plus) are so large, they have to anchor outside the harbor.

For certain restless billionaires, however, merely laying claim to "the biggest" isn't enough. One submarine vendor told Bloomberg that the attitudes of superwealthy yacht owners are shifting. "They're fed up with drinking white wine and riding jet skis, so they're looking for another thrill," said Bert Houtman, founder and chairman of U-Boat Worx.

The submarines, costing from $1.4 million to $4 million and weighing in at 18,000 pounds each, can be stored on a yacht or in a "shadow vessel" that trails behind for the purpose of ferrying water-based toys. Depending on the vendor and the model, the subs can carry two to five passengers to a depth of up to 3,000 feet, where the underwater life is sure to impress.

Graham Hawkes, ocean engineer and inventor of what he calls the "underwater plane," told Bloomberg the experience of being in his sub is "literally like flying underwater. Once you’ve done that, you don't want to do anything else."

Keep up with your wealth and mortgages, and follow me on Twitter: @JudyMartel.

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