By Otilia Dragan, AutoRevolution. The jaw-dropping superyachts owned by the wealthiest Russian businessmen have always gotten attention but have never made headlines this way before. As the number of Russian-owned assets that are being seized or frozen keeps growing, some oligarchs are allegedly still trying to protect their fortune somehow. That seems to be the case for Lukoil CEO Vagit Alekperov, whose giant luxury vessel can no longer be located.
These past few weeks, there’s been a real frenzy online linked to identifying and finding out the location of Russian oligarchs’ floating mansions. And there are plenty of them, since Russians are known to be the world’s major superyacht owners topped only by Americans.
It’s also no secret that moguls have been trying to move their luxury toys to locations that are infamous safe havens for billionaires. That’s what Alekperov, an oil industry tycoon and former first deputy minister in the Soviet Union days, seemed to have done, as his famous Galactica Super Nova sailed to Montenegro at the beginning of the month. The net worth of Alekperov is reported to be US$26 billion dollars.
Data from vessel-tracking website MarineTraffic showed that the superyacht left Montenegro after just one day, after which it apparently vanished, meaning that it stopped sending signals. The Daily Beast reports that several vessel-tracking groups, including VesselsValue, have confirmed that the Galactica Super Nova’s location has been unknown since Wednesday, March 9, and it seems that the yacht has turned off its automatic tracking system, known as AIS.
If you were wondering, that’s illegal. Not even the most luxurious yachts are exempt from the obligation of signaling their location at all times. Of course, technical issues or natural factors can cause temporary disruptions, but in this particular case, it seems that the AIS was turned off deliberately. A marine lawyer cited by the same source stated that in the case of Russian superyachts, the only reason for that could be trying to avoid being located.
Is the Galactica Super Nova trying to avoid the fate of Dilbar, Lady M, and Lena? The 71-year-old oligarch’s whopping net worth has already decreased dramatically, and Lukoil could face official sanctions soon. But it’s unclear for how long the Galactica Super Nova’s captain can keep it “hidden.”
The 229-footer (70 meters) is the longest yacht built by the acclaimed Heesen, with a Van Oossanen naval architecture and Espen Oeino design. It was designed for an incredible 30-knot (34.5 mph/55.5 kph) speed, possible thanks to a Rolls-Royce booster water jet complementing the two MTU engines. Even though in real life, the superyacht cruises at a much lower speed, Alekperov’s toy still has the potential to cut through the waves if it needs to.
Whether it’s doing that right now, trying to get to some mysterious location without being detected, only time will tell. For now, the Galactica Super Nova is a “ghost ship.