Oligarch’s $200m superyacht goes dark on epic 11,000km escape

A $208 million superyacht linked to Russia's second-richest person has gone "dark" while making an audacious 11,000km journey to the safe haven of Turkey.

The plush 85-metre Pacific, which has deck space for two helicopters, turned off its transponders for around half the month-long voyage across multiple oceans and seas, according to Bloomberg.

Linked to Russian billionaire Leonid Mikhelson, the Pacific set sail from the west coast of Costa Rica in the Pacific Ocean, moved through the Suez Canal, across the Atlantic and into the Mediterranean Sea.

The $208m superyacht Pacific has now dropped anchor in the port of Marmaris, in Turkey's south.

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On June 4, the vessel sailed into the Turkish resort port of Marmaris, waters where other prized superyachts owned by oligarchs, such as former Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich, have sought refuge from US-led sanctions.

Since Vladimir Putin ordered Russia's invasion of Ukraine, triggering a raft of punishing sanctions from Australia and others, authorities have seized more than a dozen Russian-linked superyachts worth more than $3.1 billion.

In the hope of dialling up pressure on the Kremlin, much of Putin's inner-circle of uber-wealthy elites have been targeted by wide-ranging sanctions.

Numerous Russian-owned superyachts have broken international maritime laws by turning off their AIS transponders, a boat's satellite tracking signal, to reach safe waters.

While the transponders are off, the yachts have generally sailed for Turkey, the Russian port of Vladivostok or other friendly harbours, typically the Middle East or Maldives.

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Some ships "go dark" to avoid detection, Gur Sender of Windward, a marine surveillance and intelligence firm, has told

"Sometimes vessels can intentionally and manually turn off their AIS and engage in what's referred to as dark activities," he said.

"Vessels engaging in such a behaviour are usually trying to conceal their real location or who they are meeting with."

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Leonid Mikhelson is Russia's second richest-citizen, and the owner of a gas company targeted by US sanctions.

NATO member Turkey has close ties to both Russia and Ukraine.

It has criticised Moscow's invasion of Ukraine but also positioned itself as a neutral party trying to mediate between the two.

Turkey has closed the Turkish Straits connecting the Black Sea to the Mediterranean Sea to most Russian warships but has not imposed sanctions on Russia or shut down its airspace to Russian flights.

Private jets owned by oligarchs have been allowed to land at airports in Turkey, with opensource tracking websites monitoring flights to and from places like Russia and Israel.

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