How the Russian Invasion of Ukraine is Impacting Superyacht Crew

By Maxine Rodrigues

Ukraine is currently facing the devastating war crisis inflicted by Russia, and it is no secret of the sanctions imposed upon Russian oligarchs and their assets. However, by nationality, Russians make up the second-largest ownership of superyachts (9%) behind the USA. So, what does this mean for superyacht crew members?

Let’s find out…


Switching locations

As some Russian oligarchs who are somewhat involved in the invasion of Ukraine have been identified and named, the authorities have begun their intense hunt for their assets, including luxury apartments, private jets, and yachts.

Several yachts have already been seized, such as the well-known superyacht Dilbar, owned by Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov, allegedly taken on March 2nd by German authorities. 

Nevertheless, many Russian-owned superyachts and crew have already set sail from Europe to seas considered safe havens such as the Maldives, Montenegro, Indonesia, China, and the UAE. Why are these locations considered safe-havens? Because they do not currently have an extradition treaty with the USA. Some superyachts even departed before the invasion started, such as Vladimir Putin’s very own 82m superyacht, “Graceful,” which promptly left its shipyard in Germany and headed towards Russia in early February.



Concerns over crew salaries

Concerns and uncertainty are skyrocketing in the superyacht industry regarding the financial impacts of the sanctions on Russian yacht owners and whether they will continue paying their crew’s salary. 

While there is speculation that the yacht owners may push their yachts for charter to pay for the expenses, further concerns are being raised about whether they will get bookings from clients considering the widespread boycott on business with Russia. Consequently, many crew members are abandoning and avoiding working on Russian yachts, further magnifying the potential difficulty of operating charters.


Concerns over safety

There is considerable interest online about the locations of Russian-owned superyachts—hashtags like #yachtwatch trends on Twitter where people are keeping track of the whereabouts of the yachts. However, with much information about Russian oligarch details, including their yacht names and whereabouts spreading like wildfire, there is a higher risk of vandalism. Thus, the crew is concerned for their safety on board. 

Not only are they at risk by outsiders, but also by fellow crew members. Not long ago, multiple stories emerged about a Ukrainian crew member who took revenge on his Russian boss, head of a Russian arms firm, by trying to sink his 48m yacht Lady Anastasia in Majorca, Spain. 


Do you or a crew member you know need advice?


Nautical international union urges crew members to join and encourages them to reach out if they have any issues or concerns regarding their job following the current war between Russia and Ukraine. Read more