Since the Russian army invaded Ukraine, the world has been getting smaller for pro-government oligarchs. EU and US sanctions threaten to confiscate the billionaires’ treasures. For the expensive yachts that means: diving station.

Russian oligarch Andrei Guryev doesn’t want his boat taken away from him. And the former head of PhosAgro, one of the world’s largest fertilizer manufacturers, is not alone in this. As the British “Guardian” now reports, Guryev’s “Alfa Nero” is one of a fleet of at least six ships that have deliberately switched off their position sensors. A comparison with data from stern shows that switching off is actually very much in fashion.

How do yachts report their position?

Normally ships of a certain size use the so-called “automatic identification system” (“AIS”) by default. This is a technique that was originally used to avoid collisions at sea in commercial shipping, but also offers advantages for private vessels. It is used, for example, for route planning, acts as an early warning system when other ships are approaching and helps to make better decisions when maneuvering at sea.

It is therefore unusual to switch off the “AIS” – for ships with a gross tonnage (GT) over 300 it is even forbidden according to the convention of the International Maritime Organization IMO. However, it does occur in certain areas, such as off some African coasts, where piracy is a major problem. However, this danger does not apply to the azure blue seas of the Caribbean or around the islands of the Maldives – other intentions play a role here.

The “Guardian” suspects that switching off the “AIS” on yachts owned by Russian oligarchs is a game of hide and seek. At least 13 ships are now in the hands of the authorities, and quite a few owners are at risk of losing their property through confiscation or even expropriation. The US and the EU are working flat out on laws that would allow the ships to be sold legally.

More and more yachts “disappear”

And so the number of “missing” ships on the radar is growing rapidly. A comparison with the photo series of oligarch yachts that the star has been building since the invasion of Ukraine shows far more than six hidden luxury ships. Currently, the following ships, among others, have deactivated the transponders:

The suspicion that the ships are intentionally deactivating their transponders was confirmed to the “Guardian” directly from on board a ship. A crew member of a “hidden” yacht said that the instructions were given to switch off the “AIS” – by manually expanding the technology.

Security in Turkey, Malé and Dubai

In fact, there are still yachts that would immediately be chained in the wrong port, but nevertheless report their position regularly. For example, Roman Abramovich’s ships “Eclipse” (IMO: 1009613) and “Solaris” (IMO: 9819820) regularly reveal that they are cruising undeterred through the waters of Turkey. The “Nirvana” (IMO: 1011202) of the Russian Vladimir Potanin, sanctioned in Canada, also reports regularly from Dubai. Of course, it is particularly safe in Russia itself. Alexei Mordashov shipped his “Nord” (IMO 9853785) there a few weeks ago. Almost mischievously, the ship reports where it is every few minutes.

Also read: Now it is: Italy confiscates suspected Putin yacht “Scheherazade”

For most Russian billionaires, however, the splurge in the ports of this world seems to be over for the time being – the danger is too great that the expensive ship will suddenly be stuck for a long time like the “Dilbar” or the “Sailing Yacht A”. And so every journey on land becomes a risk – because tourists are everywhere and a yacht is very difficult to hide, as the pictures of the “Alfa Nero” show.

Those: Guardian