Phi completed sea trials in November (photo courtesy of Royal Huisman)

Posted on March 30, 2022 at 2:51 PM by

The Maritime Executive

British authorities yesterday detained a superyacht believed to be owned by a Russian oligarch before it could slip away after a yachting event in London. It marketed the first such detention by the UK following similar actions by Europeans including France, Germany and Italy.

The vessel is the 192ft motor yacht Phi which was built by Royal Huisman in the Netherlands and completed at the end of last year. According to the yard, it is not only the third largest yacht they have ever built, but it was developed and built below 500 GT, making it by far the longest motor yacht in this category, based on current classification rules.

UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told the Guardian newspaper: “The detention of the Phi, proves, once again, that we can and will take the strongest possible measures against those who seek to take advantage of Russian relations. Now that the ship is detained, it’s not going anywhere…it’s just another indication that we won’t sit idly by while Putin’s cronies are allowed to sail around the world in these kind of yachts and the Ukrainians are suffering.

Shapps said his Department of Transportation was working closely with the National Crime Agency and the Border Force Marine Bureau of Investigation to intercept the superyacht, which is valued at nearly $50 million. They declined to name the alleged Russian oligarch who owned the ship, explaining that the law only required him to be related to Russia for him to be detained.

Shapps tweeted a photo of himself standing with the yacht after his arrest (Twitter)

According to the shipyard, the vessel has been designed with an “XL fast-displacement hull form” which allows the yacht to be long and sleek, while remaining under the 500 GT mark. Constructed from aluminium, it has a unique low profile and is said to have a top speed of 22 knots. It offers accommodation for two owners, as well as 10 guests and 11 crew members. Builders’ Materials reported that its amenities include an “infinite wine cellar” and a freshwater swimming pool.

The yacht was in London according to the Guardian for a World Superyacht Awards event on Monday. It was expected to set sail on Tuesday, increasing the urgency for British officials to act. It was designed to travel with an accompanying “ghost ship”, which was apparently not in London and not being detained.

The Department for Transport, according to the Guardian, is also investigating a number of other vessels for alleged links to Russia.