Marine surveyors Van Ameyde McAuslands warn seized yachts must be decommissioned to mitigate safety and environmental risks

Albert Weatherill, MD of Van Ameyde McAuslands and IIMS member
Albert Weatherill, MD of Van Ameyde McAuslands and IIMS member

Seized maritime assets could pose a “significant risk” to ports, harbours and marinas if there is no requirement to ensure mega yachts detained under sanction rules are properly maintained, made safe, or deactivated, according to experienced marine surveyor, Albert Weatherill, managing director of Van Ameyde McAuslands and a long-standing IIMS member.

Safety concerns have been raised by Van Ameyde McAuslands, a global firm of marine surveyors and engineering consultants, following the seizure of a number of high-profile mega yachts thought to be owned by Russian oligarchs, as discovered in recent weeks by port authorities across Europe.

Albert Weatherill commented, “When a vessel is seized, it may no longer be in Class and under Flag, and any insurance, including P&I and H&M, is likely to have already been revoked. From that moment the yacht, by default, becomes a liability of the state.”

In London’s Canary Wharf, authorities seized the $38 million (c. €34 million) Phi. The $75 million (c. €68 million) Axiom was seized in Gibraltar, and in Italy, authorities boarded the $540 million (c. €496 million) S/Y A, one of the world’s largest privately owned yachts. Yachts thought to be worth more than $16 billion (c. €14 billion) are being held across Europe, in Finland, France, Norway, Spain, and Germany.

Weatherill continued, “Without insurance, proper loss prevention measures need to be in place to avoid losses and claims. Potential litigation could run into millions of dollars if assets are not properly made safe or shut down correctly. These are not vessels that can be simply turned off and walked away from.”

Normally, the annual upkeep of a mega yacht can exceed $50 million (c. €45 million), with flag state requirements calling for minimum manning and planned maintenance. However, according to the marine surveying firm, there is confusion over who will be responsible for carrying out routine maintenance, if any is being carried out at all.

Van Ameyde McAuslands believes that seizing authorities should be aware of the need to take immediate action when a vessel is impounded. It believe that none of the seized yachts to date have been prepared for lay up or surveyed to prevent pollution or disruption to the port.

While it is difficult to predict how long these vessels are going to remain unused, in order to make them safe, machinery should be deactivated, systems drained down, discharge overboard valves closed, fire systems checked and engines prepared for cold lay-up in accordance with Classification Society and OEM guidelines.

Weatherill continued, “Manning, deterioration, damage, fire, theft, danger to people and property – these are all very serious issues. When vessels are dormant for long periods there is potential for things to go wrong and when there is no insurance safety net to fall back on, it’s a big problem. We’re in unchartered territory.”

Article written by Annabelle Fox and first published online at Yachting Pages.

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