Despite the market downturn, new builders continue to enter the superyacht market, often using the Monaco Yacht Show as their debut.

Last year Abu Dhabi MAR took that route to be followed this year by Italian builder Columbus Yachts. This newcomer is a subsidiary of the Naples-based commercial ship repairer Palumbo.

Columbus is building two yachts reportedly for Russian owners based in Monaco. The yachts are of 53.7m (177ft) and 62m (199ft), with the former due to be completed next year followed by the larger vessel in 2011. The yachts have been designed by engineer Sergio Cutolo, working in conjunction with Tommaso Spaldolini. “Major global companies” unnamed by Columbus are supplying the furnishing and fittings.

Both yachts are being constructed to ABS standard as well as being compliant with MCA LY2 and in addition RINA’s Green Star classification. They will have steel hulls and aluminium superstructure. For the smaller yacht, power will be provided by two Caterpillar diesels while two MTUs will be used in the larger craft.

This all represents a new departure for Palumbo and its future intentions have not been laid out. Currently the yachts are being built within Palumbo’s existing yard and it is not clear if dedicated facilities will be provided.

In another expansion move, Palumbo has recently won the bid to take on Malta Shipyards, the commercial yard that has just been privatised by the Maltese government. Malta Shipyards is still parent of Malta Superyacht Services, which still awaits a new owner as part of the privatisation process.