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UK Merchant Navy body says Russian megayachts should be stripped of Bermuda Red Ensign

The Bermudian registered megayacht Eclipse (File photograph)

Megayachts owned by a Russian billionaire that sail under the Bermuda flag should be struck off the island’s shipping register, said the UK’s Merchant Navy Association .

Two luxury vessels on Bermuda’s books are owned by billionaire Roman Abramovich, who owns the English Premier League football club Chelsea.

The Daily Mailreported last week that Ian Hodge, the chairman of the Merchant Navy Association, appealed to Bermuda to deregister Mr Abramovich’s Eclipse and Solaris in the wake of sanctions against Russia after the country invaded Ukraine.

The vessels both carry the island’s version of the Red Ensign flag.

Mr Hodge said as the Solaris docked in Montenegro in the Adriatic Sea: “I feel it should be re-registered somewhere else and it should be required to fly an appropriate flag, not the Red Ensign.

“I believe that the Red Ensign should be removed from the yacht as soon as possible, but it is a matter for the authorities in Bermuda.”

Yesterday, Ukrainian protesters tried to stop the Solaris from docking in Turkey, the Daily Mail reported.

Sanctions on Russia were imposed by Britain on February 21.

David Burt, the Premier, announced on March 1 that Bermuda would do the same.

Lawrence Scott, the transport minister, told the House of Assembly on March 14 that the Bermuda Civil Aviation Authority’s aircraft registry had borne the brunt of sanctions – but the Bermuda Shipping and Maritime Authority had not been as severely affected.

Mr Scott also said last week that there was “no Russian individual ownership on our shipping registry”.

But The Royal Gazette reported yesterday that the Bermuda Shipping and Maritime Authority had revealed that ten vessels on Bermuda’s ship registry belonged to companies incorporated in other Overseas Territories which were “widely known to be associated with high-profile Russian nationals”.

The BSMA said there was nothing in Bermuda’s maritime law to address sanctions.

The authority was said to be in consultation with the Attorney-General’s Chambers and the Financial Sanctions Implementation Unit to decide the next steps on sanctions.

The island announced on March 12 that 740 Russian aircraft on the Bermuda registry had been grounded after their certificates of airworthiness were suspended.

The US business magazine Forbeshighlighted the move last Friday.

Forbes said it had tracked 12 jets and seven helicopters linked to eight Russian billionaires to the registers of Aruba, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, the Isle of Man and Luxembourg.

Sanctions by Britain or the European Union apply in all the jurisdictions.

The magazine reported the combined value of the 19 aircraft was at least $1.2 billion.

Forbes said sanctions in the Isle of Man and Bermuda meant that aircraft were grounded unless they had been re-registered in a new country.

The magazine tracked a jet to Bermuda’s registry that is owned by Viktor Rashnikov, another Russian tycoon who made billions of dollars in iron and steel.

The Gulfstream private jet, which had the Bermuda registration VP-BOT, was registered on the island – but the Bermuda Aircraft Registry, updated yesterday, no longer lists the aircraft.

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Published March 22, 2022 at 1:35 pm (Updated March 22, 2022 at 1:35 pm)

UK Merchant Navy body says Russian megayachts should be stripped of Bermuda Red Ensign

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