It’s already been a few months since the first batch of Russian oligarchs were sanctioned by the EU, UK, and the US following the invasion of Ukraine, yet there’s no end to the cat and mouse game between the law enforcement agencies and the Russian billionaires who are trying every trick in the book to protect their assets and luxury toys from getting seized. Over the last few weeks, several of the largest and most luxurious superyachts in the world owned by sanctioned Russian billionaires have been seized by authorities, including the 156-meter Dilbar and Andrey Melnichenko-owned Sailing Yacht A.
We even saw authorities mulling on the idea of auctioning the seized yachts as they are finding it extremely expensive to maintain the luxury vessels. This has been giving sleepless nights to those oligarchs who are still scampering to evade the authorities and are now resorting to desperate measures to save their superyachts. According to a Bloomberg report, at least nine Russian superyachts have turned off their AIS transponders to go invisible from being tracked, which violates international maritime guidelines. Amongst them is the 140-meter superyacht Ocean Victory owned by Russian steel tycoon Viktor Rashnikov.
Rashnikov was one of the first Russian oligarchs to be sanctioned by the EU and the UK after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. His company even released an official statement as a response to the sanctions, calling them “unfair.” However, the billionaire was quick to take measures to save his assets from being taken away from him, including transferring his properties. To protect his superyacht that’s estimated to be worth $300 million, its AIS transponder was switched off right after it left the Maldives, where it was located in March. For more than a month now, the location of the world’s 10th biggest superyacht is simply unknown.
The automatic identification system (AIS) is an automatic tracking system that uses transponders that provide the position, identification, course, and speed of the ship to other ships and to coastal authorities. The system supplements marine radar for collision avoidance for water transport. The data generated by the AIS can also be publicly tracked by several online maritime tracking services.
It’s against the international regulation to switch of the vessel’s AIS transponder except for a few special circumstances like the threat of piracy. “Sometimes vessels can intentionally and manually turn off their AIS and engage in what’s referred to as dark activities,” said Gur Sender of Windward, a marine surveillance and intelligence firm, while speaking to 9news.com.au. “Vessels engaging in such a behaviour are usually trying to conceal their real location or who they are meeting with.” It is believed that Ocean Victory might be on its way to the Russian port of Vladivostok or has already reached its destination.
Ocean Victory – the world’s 10th biggest superyacht
Completed in 2014, the Ocean Victory superyacht is one of the biggest superyachts in the world that took four years for the Italian shipyard Fincatieri to complete. In fact, it was the biggest ever superyacht to be built in Italy at 140 meters when it was delivered to Rashnikov 8 years ago. What’s interesting is that the Italian shipyard was prohibited by its owner to release information and pictures of the interior to the public, making Ocean Victory one of the most mysterious luxury vessels in the world. Yet, the little information that is available on the internet about the pleasure craft tells how impressive the $300 million vessel truly is.
The design of Rashnikov’s sleek superyacht was penned by Espen Øino, while the interior was designed by Paris-based interior designer Alberto Pinto who is known for his eclectic mixture of styles. The Ocean Victory has an aluminum superstructure, steel hull, and expansive teak decks, while it has been built to the stringent standards of the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Lloyds Register. The superyacht is also believed to be fitted with sophisticated stabilizers that make it comfortable for everyone onboard even in rough seas.
The Ocean Victory superyacht is powered by two powerful diesel engines that help the luxury vessel attain a top speed of nearly 20 knots. However, the ship’s powertrain is optimized to be kind to the environment. While there’s very little information on the interior, the superyacht is said to have enough room to accommodate up to 36 guests.
Its impressive range of onboard amenities includes six swimming pools, a bathing platform, and a Jacuzzi spread across seven decks. Additionally, it has a certified helideck with a lifting platform and internal hangar, a floodable tender dock, ten large shell doors, and one underwater observation room. The yacht also offers a fully equipped gym, a beauty salon, and a movie theatre. If this was not enough the vessel also has a full fledged spa that is spread across 3,229 square feet.
Who is Viktor Rashnikov?
Rashnikov is one of the richest businessmen in Russia with an estimated net worth of more than $11 billion, according to Forbes, yet his life story is just as interesting as his $300 million superyacht. The 73-year-old oligarch began his career at the Magnitogorsk Iron & Steel Works (MMK) as a mechanic at the company shop in 1967.
His position at the company steadily grew till 1991, after which he was made Chief Engineer and First Deputy General Director for the firm. By 1997, Viktor Rashnikov succeeded in rising to the role of General Director at MMK, before finally becoming the chairman of the board in 2005. Today, he is the majority owner of Magnitogorsk Iron & Steel Works.