Despite the imposition of sanctions on rich Russian individuals, the country’s billionaire elite are freely roaming the seas in their superyachts with impunity untroubled by what is going on around them.
The world’s fleet of superyachts (yachts over 24 metres) is said by superyachttimes.com to number 8,747. Russia’s ultra-rich are among the biggest owners of superyachts.
Superyachtfan.com the online definitive source that lists who owns what superyacht, have over 1,300 yachts over 24 metres detailed in their database. More than 100 of those listed are ultimately owned by Russian owners.
Despite superyachts being of the most opulent displays of massive wealth. The ownership of many superyachts is often hidden by offshore shell companies. Therefore the identities of many Russian superyacht owners remain hidden and the true number of superyacht owners is difficult to establish accurately.
Research suggests that, of the world fleet of superyachts about 10% are Russian owned
Flying the red ensigns
How many of the 2500 or so superyachts flying the red ensigns of the British Cayman Islands and the Isle of Man are ultimately by Russian owners?
Alisher Burkhanovich Usmanov the Uzbek-born business-magnate has an estimated net worth of $17.9 billion and is the beneficial owner of the 157 metre superyacht yacht Dilbar
Andrey Igorevich Melnichenko, a Russian billionaire industrialist has an estimated net worth of $27.5 billion. Owns the Motor yacht A and the sailing yacht A
Russian born oligarch, billionaire Roman Arkadyevich Abramovich owns Chelsea football club and has recently purchased Portuguese citizenship. He currently owns the 162 metre Eclipse and the 152 metre Solaris built in 2021 for a reported cost of £430 million
Solaris was built at the Lloyd Werft shipyard in Bremerhaven. Accommodating 36 passengers, served by a crew of over 60, the twin engined yacht is said to be the most powerful yacht in the world.
Eclipse boasts anti-paparazzi system that uses laser to detect the electronic light sensors that digital cameras use. Those cameras are then targeted with a beam of bright light rendering the image taken useless.
Ragnar is one of two superyachts said to be owned by former KGB officer Vladimir Strzhalkovsky. On 23rd February Ragnar was boarded by Norwegian Coast Guard, Police, Customs, and immigration officials.
There has been speculation that the yacht may have been behind the cutting of fibre optic cables that run between the Norwegian mainland and the Norwegian territory of Svalbard
Originally built as an ice-breaking multipurpose support vessel in 2012, she was transformed into an expedition yacht by Icon Yachts in Holland and delivered in 2020, the 68.2 metre motor yacht Ragnar is listed for sale by Arcon Yachts.
Arcon yachts, whose CEO is Konstantin Kolpakov, are based in Monaco, with offices in Russia and the Ukraine. They have categorically denied that the yacht is owned by Vladimir Strzhalkovsky but have stopped short of admitting he is the true beneficial owner
Russian superyacht owners prefer to hire crew who do not speak Russian for fear of being overheard. As a consequence, crews mostly hail from Europe, Australasia and South Africa.
Which of the international crewing agencies will be the first to stop supplying crew to yachts whose beneficial owners are Russian.
Superyachts are managed by specialist management companies who act as agents or buffers between the beneficial owner and the rest of the world. Which of these managers will be the first to dump their Russian paymasters?
Imperial Yachts of Monaco are Russian owned and act for Russian superyacht owners. They have reciprocal agreements with many other superyacht brokerage houses.
Can SYBAss (the Superyacht Builders Association) act against Russian superyacht ownership when one of their own members is controlled by Russian interests.
Russian owned Heesen Yachts are based in The Netherlands. A progressive and innovative shipyard, it builds up to 20 superyachts a year mostly for Russian owners.
Waiting to see action
I am waiting to see which of the very large international based superyacht brokerage houses will be the first to delist a Russian owned superyacht that they have on their books.
Will superyacht charter brokers around the world continue to act on behalf of Russian clients as they seek to charter superyachts?
Even as the U.K. and the USA ramp up sanctions on more than 100 Russian individuals and entities, superyachts belonging to the country’s elite have been allowed to sail unfettered. Is it not time the industry stood up and said No? Or is corporate greed going to win out yet again?