Heesen Yachts was founded in 1978 by Frans Heesen, an entrepreneur who at the time was best known for his work in the plastics industry. Heesen purchased the Striker Boats shipyard site in the Netherlands as a potential home for another business, but decided to retain the property as a shipyard and continue its operations. One year following the purchase, Heesen launched the 20 metre (66ft) Amigo, a luxury yacht that was the first to bear the Heesen name.
1988 was a breakthrough year for Heesen Yachts. The yard was commissioned by American entrepreneur John Staluppi to build a yacht that could do more than 50 knots. Consequently Heesen built Octopussy, which was named after the 1983 James Bond film. This custom-built yacht was at the time the fastest yacht on record, registering a top speed of 53.17 knots. It was refitted and lengthened by another company years later and, due to the weight the works added, it fell out of the rankings of the world’s fastest yachts.
By 1990, Heesen had built more than 25 yachts over 27 meters (89ft) in length, earning it a reputation as one of the world’s leading custom yacht builders. Mirage, formerly El Corsario – considered a sister design to Octopussy – was launched by Heesen in 1991. It used triple waterjets as propulsion and was ranked as the 16th fastest yacht in the world by Boat International. It has a cruising speed of 45 knots and can reach a top speed of up to 48 knots.
In 1992, the company expanded its business to include the construction of traditional displacement, long range steel hulled yachts. This was marked by the launch of the 50 metre (160ft) motor yacht Achiever in collaboration with Oceanco.
In 1996 Heesen, already known for its earlier Striker sport fishing boats, entered the market for large sport fishing yachts with the delivery of the 37 metre (121ft) Obsession, a yacht that could reach a speed of 33 knots. At that time she was the world’s largest sport fishing yacht. Heesen expanded in 2003, the same year it launched its 3700 and 4400 yacht series. The expansion included the building of a new construction facility.
Heesen Yachts was featured in Voyages of M/Y AlumerciA, a 2011 book written by Andrew Rogers. The book documents the voyages between 2001 and 2010 of the eponymous motoryacht that was built by Heesen. In 2013, Heesen launched the 65 metre (213ft) Fast Displacement yacht Galactica Star, a custom built yacht with a top speed of 28.8 knots. It has received nine awards including a World Superyacht Award. Heesen also launched another World Superyacht Award winning yacht – Satori – in 2011. Frans Heesen retired from the company in 2012, 35 years after founding Heesen Yachts.
Heesen Yachts’ largest project to date, a 70 metre (230ft) aluminum Fast Displacement superyacht, was delivered in the Spring of 2016. Named Galactica Super Nova, she was designed in collaboration with Espen Oeino and has a top speed of 30 knots. In 2017 the yard also delivered the world’s first hybrid-powered Fast Displacement yacht, a 50 meter (164ft) named Home.