“Generally the crew or anyone working for a big company is focused on their job and maintaining standards. But the way the penalties are structured will make it quite difficult to work on board. It will be a tough time for them,” Hogan says.
Recently, it was reported that the entire crew of a superyacht owned by a “high-ranking” member of the Russian military quit in protest against their boss. Nautilus International, the maritime union, has also urged members working on Russian-owned yachts to register.
We still don’t know a lot about the end of #YachtWatch. If a ship is seized, for example, what then? How the EU is handling its first catches this week could set the standard. Until that happens, the sanctioned oligarchs’ superyachts will stay put or sail away. But they are not oil tankers: they will need fuel and maintenance before long, in ports that can accommodate them, and each ship sails under a flag (often of a tax haven, such as the Cayman Islands or Bermuda ), under which laws it must comply. Laws can change.
A notable megayacht sailing under the right flag, and whose owner is definitely under surveillance, is Graceful. It is believed to be owned by Putin himself and is one of the few such ships to have sailed straight to the safest place for a paranoid oligarch right now: Russia. Currently, it is well established in Kaliningrad, its westernmost port.
“That’s an interesting thing in itself, how we haven’t seen mass migration there,” Hogan said. Although it is the largest country on the planet, he says, Russia is not very easy to navigate, and it is becoming increasingly difficult as the war rages on. It is, however, “something we are watching closely”.
They are not the only ones. The race is on and #YachtWatch is on the hunt.