The Engines that Power Superyachts

Yacht Bible 0 Comments March 5, 2022


The sight of a majestic superyacht is absolutely fascinating, but only few people actually know the different engine types that power these massive vessels. The size of a yacht and its weight, which is given in gross tons, have considerable influence on the type of engine it will come with.

For that reason, the majority of superyachts usually do not only have one engine but actually several in most cases. This post lists the most popular engines used in both smaller boats as well as some of the largest privately owned yachts in the world.

MTU engines

The manufacturer MTU is probably the most popular engine brand in the yachting industry, and their products can be found in vessels from all over the world.

Founded in 1909, MTU first produced engines for airships, most famously blimps, before specialising in the marine industry.

Today the engine manufacturer is also well known for its powerful train and locomotive, armoured vehicle, haul truck engines as well as, of course, yachts. 

Not only does MTU offer the best equipment for series and performance yachts, but also customised and specially manufactured engines for superyachts.

The world-renowned company advertises exceptional and powerful engines that are particularly quiet and low-vibration for maximum comfort and the best possible operating conditions. 

For yachts, the MTU engine series 2000, 4000, 1163, and 8000 are the most common models and can reach a performance between 400 and 10000 KW or even 500 to 13400 HP.

The 162.5 meter (533 ft) ECLIPSE, currently the third largest yacht in the world, is equipped with not just one but four MTU 20V 1163 TB93 diesel engines allowing the giant vessel to reach top speeds of 25 knots.

Yachts That Use MTU Engines

Caterpillar engines

The international brand Caterpillar is widely known for its mining vehicles, including excavators and trucks and is one of the leading manufacturers of high quality and powerful industrial engines.

However, Caterpillar also manufactures different engines for the yacht industry and has become a top choice for mid-sized and large superyachts. 

The yacht manufacturers Pride Mega Yachts, and Tourquise Yachts are known to put great trust in the engines of Caterpillar, choosing them time and time again for their most high-profile projects.

These include, for example, the ESTATEMENT with its 115 meters (377 feet) and the 77-meter (253 feet) GO, both of which are powered by Caterpillar engines. 

Caterpillar offers a wide variety of yacht engines such as the series C12, C18, C32, 3512C as well as VM32C with a performance range between 500 to 8000 KW and 660 to 11000 HP.

At the moment Caterpillar manufactures 18 different models of the series mentioned above that are suitable for exclusive yachts, speedboats and fishing vessels.

Yachts That Use Caterpillar Engines

MAN engines

MAN SE is a well-known machine manufacturer from Germany, established in 1758 and recently merged to form Traton SE. The company has made a name for itself in truck and bus manufacturing and produces different types of engines and machines.

MAN’s most famous project in the boating industry was in 1987 when they supplied a total of nine four-stroke diesel engines for the cruise ship Queen Elizabeth II, which at that time was considered the largest engine for a vessel carrying passengers. 

On the water, MAN offers 12 different engines for yachts as well as fishing boats. Their popular i6 series has three different engines which have an output from 537 to 625 KW, which corresponds to 730 to 850 HP.

The V8 series also has three engines which range between 735 and 956 KW (1000 to 1300 HP). The most powerful yacht engine series by MAN is the V12 model. With an output range of 1029 up to 1471 KW, these powerful engines provide 1400 to 2000 HP per engine.

SEMT Pielstick

The 147-meter (482 ft.) PRINCE ABDULAZIZ is one of the largest yachts in the world, relying on Pielstick engines. She is powered by two 5,816 kW Pielstick diesel generator sets that produce an astonishing cruising speed of 18 knots, which is considerable for her size. 

Since 2006, SEMT Pielstick, which originally mainly produced engines for locomotives, power plants, naval and merchant’s vessels, has actually been part of MAN, although the brand SEMT remains.

Pielstick was originally based in France, and in addition to producing engines for superyachts, the company built power plants and locomotive engines.

Yachts That Use Pielstick Engines

Wärtsilä engines

While companies like MAN or Caterpillar have become household names, Wärtsilä is a somewhat lesser-known engine manufacturer in the yachting industry.

The Finnish brand was founded in 1834 and has worked on very large projects like the 82-metre ALFA NERO, the 106-metre BLACK PEARL, and the 84-metre SAVANNAH.

Wärtsilä is therefore not to be underestimated, and their experience in the energy sector makes their engines extremely efficient and highly innovative. 

In addition to traditional diesel and gas engines, Wärtsilä also manufactures propellers, marine control systems and water management solutions.

The majority of their projects are, however, industrial, although it is expected that Wärtsilä will most likely work on more superyachts in the future, given their innovative approaches.

Yachts That Use Wärtsilä Engines