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Nautilus International urges extreme caution over oligarch yacht dispute5 April 2019
Maritime union Nautilus International is urging officers and seafarers to exercise caution in dealings with a luxury superyacht at the centre of a bitter divorce dispute between oil and gas billionaire Farkhan Akhmedov and his estranged wife Tatiana.
With up to 30 crew estimated to remain onboard the Marshall Islands flagged M/Y Luna, Nautilus members are advised not to participate in the removal of the vessel from Dubai waters, where it has been detained since October last year, as it may put them at risk.
In December 2016 the English High Court ordered Mr Akhmedov to pay Ms Akhmedov £453m in a divorce settlement that included the transfer of cash and property comprising a modern art collection, helicopter, private jet and M/Y Luna.
A Freezing Order was upheld last month, with the vessel ordered to remain in Dubai until further notice.
Nautilus previously helped members serving aboard the M/Y Luna who had their passports seized by local authorities in Dubai purportedly to prevent the superyacht from leaving the Emirate. Nautilus worked with the Marshall Islands flag state to reassure members and a successful court judgment ordered the return of the passports.
Despite repeated offers from Nautilus to the yacht management company, providing the opportunity to work with the Union in such instances, these offers have not yet been taken up.
Nautilus International organiser Danny McGowan said, 'It is disappointing that yet again, the crew onboard M/Y Luna are being drawn into a divorce dispute. Seafarers working onboard superyachts are maritime professionals, and do not deserve to potentially face pressure to move a yacht in contravention of high court orders.
'Maritime professionals working in the superyacht industry should become members of Nautilus International at the earliest opportunity, as they never know when they might become embroiled in such an unusual – and high profile – case that requires the assistance of the only trade union and professional association working globally in the industry.'
M/Y Luna was built in 2010 by German shipyard Lloyd Werft for Chelsea Football Club owner and Russian magnate Roman Abramovich. The £115m vessel has a helipad, 60-ft swimming pool, spa and deck Jacuzzi. It can host up to 18 guests in nine cabins and is capable of carrying up to 49 crew onboard.
Nautilus recently worked on behalf of crew members in another high-profile superyacht case, after Indian multi-millionaire Vijay Mallya abandoned his vessel, the Indian Empress, in October 2017. Following a year-long battle, the Union’s legal team secured almost US$1m in unpaid wages for the crew.