She began life as HMS Beagle, was then converted to become a super yacht and renamed Titan. Now, following another refi t later this year, she will sail again as Aqua Blu.
The 60 metre vessel has had a chequered career but in every task rendered, she has excelled. Launched by Brooke Marine for the Royal Navy in 1967 HMS Beagle, was a Bulldogclass survey vessel designed and built around a proven merchant navy hull design. Her sister ships included the hydrographic survey ships HMS Bulldog, HMS Fawn and HMS Fox. HMS Beagle was the last Royal Navy vessel to be fitted with wooden decks and took her name from the legendary ship that carried Charles Darwin on his global expeditions. She was fitted with a Surveying Information Processing System (SIPS), designed to collect vital data on hydrographic and oceanographic surveys for planning and operational purposes.
She served the Royal Navy up until 2002 when she was sold to Peter & Pauline Bull, a couple who had successfully owned and operated the 53-metre charter super yacht Galu for many years together. Pauline had trained as a draughtswoman but left the profession to successfully become a fulltime photographic fashion model. She went on to win many Beauty titles around Britain. After winning the Miss England title, she was a semi-finalist in the Miss Universe contest in Hong Kong winning the title Miss Photogenic the same year. For 22 years Pauline was happily married to the half-Norwegian half-English construction engineer Peter Bull. His greatgreat- grandfather was Ole Bull the 19th century Norwegian violinist. Together they hired the then undiscovered super yacht designers, Bjorn Johansson and Peter Samson putting them in charge of redesigning the yacht’s exterior and interior so that Titan could carry up to 24 guests in 12 staterooms.
Unlike many navy vessels HMS Beagle was beamy, as a survey ship, she rarely had to move fast. Down below, her four dependable Lister Blackstone engines each developing 660 hp were, and remain today, the yacht’s star attraction.
To say that the conversion was funded on a shoestring budget would be an understatement. But it is, perhaps, a testament to the organisational skills of Peter Bull as a project manager that the undertaking worked so well. He hired a commercial berth in Poole and contracted in about 50 individual craftsmen, designers, naval architects and other skilled people on a day rate basis paying them only for their time when they were working on board.
Titan emerged from her three year long refit in 2005 retaining all of her oceangoing capabilities including an impressive range of 6,000 nm, making her the perfect travel companion at sea. She became a classic example of a conversion from ship to yacht that was well executed. With her chart-making background, and her “do anything go anywhere attitude” she was one of the first conversions to capture the epitome of the true; world explorer super yacht.