The 58.5 metre long vessel, named Phi, was anchored in Canary Wharf, East London, and it has now been detained by UK officials. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps stated the ship was in the capital for a “refit” but “won’t be going anywhere”. It comes after a wave of sanctions actioned against oligarchs thought to be close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who invaded Ukraine on February 24.
Mr Shapps said: “Today we’ve detained a 38 million pound superyacht and turned an icon of Russia’s power and wealth into a clear and stark warning to Putin and his cronies.
“It’s just another indication that we will not stand by whilst Putin’s cronies are allowed to sail around the world in these kinds of yachts and people in Ukraine are suffering.”
He added: “When you see what he’s doing to Ukraine, when you see what he’s doing to people’s lives, it can’t be right to have a yacht like this here in London, able to just sail away, and that is why we’ve impounded it and denied its ability to go anywhere right now.”
This is the first time that such restrictions have been used to detain a ship.
Phi – named after the mathematical concept – made her maiden voyage last year after being built in the Netherlands.
The Department for Transport (DfT) said it worked with the National Crime Agency and the Border Force Maritime Investigation Bureau to identify and detain Phi.
A paper sign stuck on the side of the boat read: “P&O JUSTICE FOR THE 800”, and it is thought to be placed there by a member of the crew.
The ‘protest’ sign pointed to the 800 seafarers that were sacked without notice by P&O Ferries.
The Department for Transport (DfT) refused to reveal the name of her owner, stating that he is “a Russian businessman”.
They added that Phi’s ownership is “deliberately well hidden”.
Phi is registered to a company based in the Caribbean dual-island nation of Saint Kitts and Nevis, and carries a Maltese flag.
The luxury vessel was first identified as being potentially Russian owned on March 13, the government said, and a subsequent investigation led to its detention.
The DfT said it is “looking at a number of other vessels” and hopes its “strong stance sends an example to international partners”.