Source: www.nytimes.com : 2022-07-07 20:12:46 : Claire Moses
Jeff Bezos will not be able to sail a new, more than 400-foot-long superyacht through the waters of the Dutch city of Rotterdam anytime soon.
The port city faced an uproar months ago as it considered dismantling a section of a 95-year-old bridge to allow the Amazon founder’s yacht to pass. But now the boat’s builder, the Dutch company Oceanco, has decided to refrain from applying for a permit, according to a Rotterdam City Council member.
It was unclear how Mr. Bezos’ yacht would leave the area or whether Oceanco would finish the boat. The company did not respond to requests for comment on Wednesday and Thursday. An Amazon spokeswoman did not immediately return a request for comment.
The yacht was supposed to sail through the Koningshaven Bridge, known locally as “De Hef,” over the summer and was on track to become the largest sailing yacht in the world at 417 feet, according to the superyacht industry publication Boat International. The bridge does not have enough clearance for the yacht, which was being built in a nearby town.
Because Oceanco is no longer seeking an application, the middle part of the bridge will not be removed for now, according to a public letter from the councilman, Vincent Karremans. The dismantling process takes about a day, as does putting it back together, according to Peter van Druten, a spokesman for the city of Rotterdam.
De Hef opened in 1927 and was the first vertical lift bridge in the Netherlands, but it is no longer in use. It has been dismantled before — most recently in 2017 for a renovation, Mr. van Druten said. The bridge is “an icon for the city,” he said.
The full cost of the dismantling would have been covered by Oceanco, the city said, and the bridge would have immediately been restored afterward.
City officials told reporters in February that Rotterdam had agreed to briefly dismantle the bridge to allow Mr. Bezos’ yacht to go through. But after backlash, they walked back that statement and said a decision had not been made.
A Facebook event at the time invited residents of the city to throw eggs at the boat. “Dismantling De Hef for Jeff Bezos’s latest toy? Come throw eggs … !” the event’s organizer wrote in February.
Then last month, the Dutch newspaper Trouw reported that Oceanco had decided not to apply for the permit out of fear of vandalism and threats.
“That’s worrisome — the ship builder is just doing his job,” said Dieke van Groningen, a Rotterdam council member for VVD, the Dutch liberal party.
Responses so far were mixed. Some people applauded the fact that the city would not have to bend to the will of Mr. Bezos. Facebook posts by the Dutch public in response to the news included sentiments like: “Class! Keep your spine straight for such oligarchs,” and “Let him get that thing with his own rocket.”
“We’re happy it’s not happening,” said Marvin Biljoen, a councilman for GroenLinks, the Dutch Green Party. “The bridge is a national monument, which shouldn’t be altered too much. That you could still do that with money anyway bothers us.”
But others believed it would have been a good opportunity for the city.
“I talk to a lot of residents of Rotterdam,” Ms. van Groningen, the VVD councilwoman, said. “They’re incredibly proud that these kinds of ships sail through our city.”
Rotterdam is the biggest port in Europe and a main hub for shipbuilding, including superyachts.
“This is the Netherlands at its best,” Ms. van Groningen said. “It’s about the image of the port, and you should be proud of that.”
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