Russian Superyachts Now Avoiding US West Coast, Mediterranean: Heat Maps

  • Russian oligarchs’ superyachts have been spotted in various regions after the war in Ukraine began.
  • Heat maps show that the oligarch’s yachts avoid the west coast of America and the Mediterranean.
  • Turkey, Dubai, Maldives, and Seychelles, are popular destinations for superyachts.

Some Russian oligarchs have withheld their luxury superyachts from Western sanctions since President Vladimir Putin ordered his troops into Ukraine in February last year.

Heat maps from space-based data and analytics firm Spire, obtained by Insider, show that the oligarchs’ superyachts were located in completely different destinations in January of this year compared to before the war began. in February 2022.

While some of the yachts cruised around the world to avoid sanctions against Russian oligarchs, others turned off their tracking signals to avoid detection. The Galactica Super Nova reportedly stopped sending tracking signals in March, although the reasons for this are unclear. According to several reports, the vessel is owned by Vagit Alekperov, CEO of the Russian oil company Lukoil.

Below is a world map from Spire showing the movements of Russian oligarchs’ superyachts between February 2021 and February 2022, and then from February 2022 to January 2023. The yellow spots represent the hottest, indicating that there were many yachts found in the area.

Whole world

A heat map showing Russian oligarch yacht traffic around the world before and after the invasion of Ukraine.

Spire Maritime

The first map shows two popular routes for yachts – one straight up the west coast of America to Chile, and the other across the Atlantic Ocean. Luxury ships are also common in Iceland, the Mediterranean Sea, and along the coasts of France, Portugal, and Norway, according to the map.

A year later, trends have clearly changed. The second map shows that for a year, the oligarch’s superyachts avoided most of America’s west coast and floated near the Hawaiian Islands, Mexico, and The Caribbean. Fewer ships crossed the Atlantic Ocean, and most stayed away from the Mediterranean.

The Mediterranean

A heat map showing Russian oligarch yacht traffic in the Mediterranean before and after the invasion of Ukraine

Spire Maritime

Spire data found the Mediterranean was a hotspot for Russian oligarchs’ superyachts before Russia invaded Ukraine. Many ships will remain around Spain, northern Italy, southern France, Croatia, Greece, and Sicily, according to the first heat map.

The second map shows that after Putin invaded Ukraine, there was very little activity from the yachts of Russian oligarchs around the Mediterranean coast and some of the popular routes disappeared.

The only country in the region that attracts yachts is Turkey, according to Spire’s map. Turkey still offers a safe haven for the assets of Russian oligarchs because they have not yet imposed sanctions on Russia for its aggression against Ukraine.

Two superyachts owned by sanctioned billionaire Roman Abramovich both sailed to Turkey in March and have remained there since then, according to Marine Traffic data.

“With yachts turning away from favorite holiday spots like Sicily in favor of safe harbors like Turkey – and sometimes avoiding detection entirely by turning off their tracking signals – it’s clear that the “Russian oligarchs who still have their ships know the threat of seizure is real and have completely changed their travel plans to avoid capture,” John Lusk, CEO of Spire Maritime, said. in the Insider.

Northern Europe

A heat map showing Russian oligarch yacht traffic in Northern Europe before and after the invasion of Ukraine.

Spire Maritime

Before the war, Russian oligarchs’ yachts stuck around Iceland, the northern coasts of France and Germany, and parts of Norway and the UK, according to Spire’s first map.

From February 25, 2022, Spire said its data showed almost no activity from oligarch superyachts in Northern Europe. Only one yacht has been found in the area since the war began, Spire said.

Arabian Sea

A heat map showing Russian oligarch yacht traffic around the Arabian Sea before and after the invasion of Ukraine

Spire Maritime

The Spire data also highlighted the movements of Russian oligarchs’ yachts around the Arabian Sea.

The Red Sea passage still proved to be a favored sailing route for ships after the war in Ukraine began in February last year, according to the maps.

Fewer yachts were found in Dubai, the Maldives, and the Seychelles, but the yellow heat spots on the second map show that they are still popular destinations.

These sunny places do not have an extradition treaty with the US and therefore attract many yachts of Russian billionaires, including Clio, owned by Oleg Deripaska, according to SuperYacht Fan and other reports. A spokesman for Deripaska said he does not own Clio. Deripaska was sanctioned by the US in 2018, as well as the EU and UK last year – all three entities described him as an oligarch in their sanctions. The spokesman said Deripaska was not an oligarch because he became a billionaire before Putin came to power and was not involved in politics.

February 8, 2023: This story was updated to include a response from Oleg Deripaska’s spokesperson.

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