Fleming Yachts company is the creation of Tony Fleming, a man with the skills of an engineer and the eye of an artist. After 20 years of working for American Marine, builder of the Grand Banks brand of motor yachts, Tony founded Fleming Yachts in 1985 and took his idea of a new pilothouse to Taiwan. Construction of Fleming Yachts began at the Tung Hwa boat yard in the south of Taiwan. The original goal was to create the epitome of comfortable cruising or live-aboard yachts. The intelligent design and high degree of engineering found in Fleming yachts continues to this day as it is still run by the Fleming family.
At Viking Yachts, quality control is second to none and every sportfish and motor yacht produced is undoubtedly a pedigree level yacht. As the industry leader in boat building, Viking accomplishes such high standards by the company’s vertical integration of each manufacuring component that goes into a build. Over 90% of every Viking is designed and manufactured in-house like the below 44 Convertible – resulting in the production of the world’s finest sportfishing and motor yachts time and time again. Here we take an inside look at a few of the vital departments that help turn each Viking built into a flawless finished product.
The Viking Yachts Mill
The men and woman of this multi-faceted Viking department create the high-end, impeccably detailed interior woodwork in Viking’s industry-leading sportfish and motor yachts. The Mill consists of a 94-member team that includes Viking’s Sub Assembly Operation, Joiner Shop and Finish Area.
Above: Anthony Bhagwandeen uses a router to shape a dinette table in the Joiner Shop.
The Mill receives, organizes, stores and cuts the many materials used to build the various components in each vessel. Three CNC (Computer Numerical Controlled) routers carve out all shaped parts; a variety of other saws, including a panel saw and table saws, cut lines and corners. Above: CNC Operator Bob McCormack shapes solid wood parts using a Komo router.
Below: Vice President of Manufacturing Al Uhl holds a walnut table-top molding that will receive a bullnose edge and a high-gloss finish.
Every piece of material on a Viking that has shape to it other than metals goes through the Mill. At any given time The Mill can be working on materials for more than 30 boats at once.
Above: Finish Foreman Ramon Perla (red shirt) and Sub Assembly and Joiner Shop Supervisor Frank Uhl check the finish on galley cabinetry.
In addition to wood, the Mill handles cutting and shaping of plastics, foams, acrylics and composites.
Above, left: These materials are stored in multiple seven-stack-high aisles in the Mill warehouse.
Above, right: After being cut on our state-of-the-art Wadkin molding machine, the many styles of moldings are organized on nearby racks.
Above: Jose Lara Medina sprays a polyurethane finish on door parts in one of our three spray booths. The wood can receive either a satin or high-gloss finish. Below: Sander and buffer Teresita Perez works on a cabinet door in the Mill’s finish area
“When I walk on a completed boat I feel a great sense of pride,” says Frank Uhl, “because I can see the end result. I’m reminded that we are very good at what we do.”
Viking’s Mechanical Department
Viking’s experienced and skilled Mechanical Set Up team, known as Department 01, is responsible for the prepping and installation of nearly every system aboard a Viking. Engines, gensets, air conditioning, steering and running gear, fuel tanks, fresh and seawater plumbing, refrigeration. The list goes on. “We have our hands on every part of the boat,” says Mechanical Department Foreman Bill Langel, shown here overseeing the placement of the first of two MTU engines in one of Viking’s convertible models.
“Everyone sees the shiny fiberglass and woodwork,” says Mechanical Department Supervisor Steve Rickards. “We’re responsible for what you don’t see – the guts that make the boat tick.” One of those unseen elements includes this generator headed for a Viking 80 Enclosed Bridge Convertible.
There’s no shortage of heavy lifting in the Mechanical Department. Left: Pete Skudalski Jr. (yellow shirt), lead man of Line 1 Mechanical, helps installers guide a Seakeeper SK 35 gyro into a 92 Convertible. Right: Inside a 72, George Dorell (blue shirt) installs the plumbing for a head system, while Sean Fitzpatrick works on the chilled-water air conditioning.
Ron Jengeleski, the “Tank Man,” stands on the aft main fuel tank of a 72 Convertible. Ron installs the various fittings and pressure tests all of Viking’s custom-made resin-infused fuel, water and waste tanks. Total prep and testing time was about six hours for this 1,404-gallon tank.
Department 01 owns the space between production lines two and three, a sprawling area filled with a collection of various water, steering and fuel pumps; mechanical and interior components; hoses; and finishing supplies.
Left: If you’ve ever used a shower aboard a Viking, you can thank Fred Vassallo, a 38-year Viking veteran who is responsible for their preparation, which includes installing fixtures and associated plumbing.
Right: Louis Pansa readies a Dometic air conditioning compressor assembly for installation.
The next time you’re admiring a Viking on the water, such as the Viking 72 demo shown below, remember the beauty that exists in the belly of the boat, a masterful collection of mechanical art created by the 40-member team in Department 01.
Machine and Metal Shops
Nowhere is the vertical integration of the Viking Yacht Company more apparent than in our Machine and Metal Shops, where thousands of components and parts are manufactured by a skilled team of 24 fabricators, welders, machinists and painters.
The Metal Shop, which also consists of a fabricating and welding hub and a paint shop, supplies the Machine Shop with raw materials that are manufactured into finished parts.
Above: Welder/Fabricator Javier Torres works on a Viking convertible’s anodized aluminum flybridge ladder.
Left: Machinist Lubosh Porizka operates the Fadal machine, a manufacturing workhorse with 30 separate tools that produces everything from copper bus bars (connection point for circuits) to electrical distribution panels to our unique steering manifolds to various templates, brackets and backing plates. Right: The Fadal has already completed cutouts in this aluminum distribution panel for switches and gauges. Lubosh uses a manual drill press to countersink the panel’s mounting holes.
Viking’s men of mettle are led by Machine Shop Supervisor Tom Lagocki, right, and Metal Shop Supervisor Joe Martorana, left.
Joe stands next to the 1-inch-thick aluminum saddles used to reinforce our stringer-mounted engine installations. Tom, a 30-plus-year Viking veteran who has been instrumental in the development and success of both shops, shows a drawer-full of copper bus bars used in the electrical distribution panels.
Above: Welder/Fabricator Brian Nevitt uses a pipe crowning machine to shape the anodized aluminum bowrail (covered with protective white vinyl) of a 68 Convertible. Below: Built to order, the rail will wrap around the owner-requested bow pulpit. Brian measures for stanchion height, which fits the rake of the rail.
Above: Frames for air conditioning units await chemical baths before they are powder coated. Below: Viking pioneered the use of powder coating metals for saltwater corrosion and abrasion resistance. Here, Painter Dan Jackson uses an electrostatic sprayer to uniformly apply white powder coat to the aft rail of a 72 Enclosed Bridge. The structure will then be moved into a separate chamber and heated at 400 degrees for 35 minutes, fusing the paint and aluminum for maximum durability.