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Abramovich superyachts may soon lose Bermuda flag, says report

The Bermudian registered motor yacht Eclipse arrives in Bermuda waters in 2015. The yacht is owned by Russian tycoon and Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich, who may see its Bermuda registration withdrawn. (File photograph by David Skinner)

Superyachts owned by a sanctioned Russian oligarch are likely to be “de-registered” by Bermuda “imminently“ the Daily Mail has reported.

The UK-based newspaper said Russian oligarch and Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich’s four Bermuda-registered superyachts would soon be mothballed as Bermuda authorities prepared to withdraw the Bermuda flag they sail under.

Quoting an insider, the Daily Mail report said the 533ft Eclipse and 456ft Solaris, along with at least two support vessels, were among $1.3 billion worth of assets that would be unable to sail.

Eclipse and Solaris are anchored in Turkey at present to avoid being impounded under international sanctions elsewhere. Meanwhile, the 220ft Garcon and the 180ft Halo were in Antigua, where their ownership was under investigation. None will be able to depart for other destinations or even neighbouring ports if they lose their Bermudan registration, the newspaper said.

“The whole fleet is under the Bermuda flag and they are in the process of being de-registered,” the Daily Mail quoted a source.

“We don’t know when it will happen. All we know is that it’s imminent. Without a flag, you’re not allowed to sail. The captain would be arrested. There’s also a fuel shortage. When you pay millions of pounds to refuel boats, it goes through banking channels and it gets rejected.”

According to the story, the superyachts were having trouble paying for supplies, fuel and the crews.

“Morale among the fleet’s 200 crew members has hit rock bottom as most have not been paid since February,” the story said the source added.

Superyacht crews are not in breach of sanctions, but seafarers’ union Nautilus International warned increased compliance checks by banks had become a ‘major issue’ for staff salaries.

Head of yacht section Derek Byrne told the newspaper: “A number of crew aboard Roman Abramovich’s yachts have approached us due to non-payment of wages.”

The loss of the flag means vessels are almost certainly ‘illegal to sail’ and stuck in ports, he said.

In March a spokesman for the Bermuda Shipping and Maritime Authority said it had ten registered vessels “associated with high-profile Russian nationals“.

A BSMA spokesman said then: “There are no specific provisions in our maritime legislation that covers or addresses sanctions.

“The principal legislation for sanctions in Bermuda is the International Sanctions Regulations 2013 and the BSMA is currently working and consulting with the Attorney-General’s Chambers and the Financial Sanctions Implementation Unit to thoroughly review and analyse the UK sanctions to determine the appropriate steps to be taken, and this process is ongoing.

“There are many interconnected facets, components and consequences that must be carefully investigated and considered along with the safety and welfare of the seafarers.”

The Bermuda Shipping and Maritime Authority failed to respond to requests from the Daily Mail for a comment.

The Royal Gazette has sought comment from Government on the report.

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Published May 02, 2022 at 7:55 am (Updated May 02, 2022 at 8:12 am)

Abramovich superyachts may soon lose Bermuda flag, says report

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