Rotterdam to dismantle historic bridge

Rotterdam has confirmed it will dismantle a historic bridge to allow a superyacht built for Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to fit through.

The record-breaking luxury yacht is being built by Dutch firm Oceanco and was linked to Bezos last year.

The vessel is reported to be 417ft (127m) long and too tall to fit through the Koningshaven Bridge.

A spokesman for the mayor confirmed the plan to reporters, with Bezos set to foot the bill through Oceanco.

Reports emerged in Dutch media on Tuesday that the middle section of the Dutch city’s bridge, known locally as De Hef, would be temporarily removed to allow the 130ft (40m) high boat to sail through.

The move is controversial because the steel bridge has a long history, and is now a national monument. It previously went through a major renovation which saw it out of action from 2014 to 2017, when officials said it would not be dismantled again.

The AFP news agency quoted the mayor’s office as saying the jobs created by the construction of the vessel prompted the plan, and pledged the bridge would be rebuilt in its current form.

“It’s the only route to the sea,” a mayoral spokesman added.

The sentiment was echoed by Rotterdam’s local authority project leader Marcel Walravens, who said it would not be practical to finish the yacht’s construction elsewhere.

He told the Rijnmond website the project was “very important” from an economic perspective and cited Rotterdam’s reputation as the “maritime capital of Europe”.

“Shipbuilding and activity within that sector are an important pillar of the municipality,” he said.

Walravens told a local newspaper the project will likely happen in the summer, with officials hoping the section can be removed and replaced within a couple of weeks.

Details about the luxury custom yacht order being built by Oceanco emerged last year.

The firm remains tight-lipped about its clients but a Bloomberg biography about Bezos in 2021 appeared to confirm rumours that he would be the owner.

Known as Y721, the vessel will be the largest of its kind in the world, according to Boat International. It is rumoured to boast plenty of luxury features with an accompanying “support yacht” on order with a helicopter landing pad.

The move was criticised by local green politician Stephan Leewis on Twitter, who described “tear[ing] down our beautiful national monument” as “a bridge too far”.

Forbes estimates the Amazon founder is worth more than $175bn (£130bn) and currently ranks him as the third richest in the world. Aside from being a giant in the e-commerce industry, Bezos also owns the Washington Post newspaper and space company Blue Origin. (BBC)

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