First superyacht seized in UK waters under sanction rules


A Russian-owned superyacht has been seized in UK waters for the first time today, on the orders of UK transport secretary Grant Shapps. The 192ft (58.5m) $50m yacht Phi, owned by an unnamed Russian business man, was arrested at Canary Wharf, East London under sanctions legislation.

“Today we’ve detained a £38m superyacht and turned an icon of Russia’s power and wealth into a clear and stark warning to Putin and his cronies,” Shapps said in a statement. “Detaining the Phi, proves, yet again, that we can and will take the strongest possible action against those seeking to benefit from Russian connections.” 

The detention notice was served by officers from the National Crime Agency (NCA), after an investigation, which began earlier this month. The ownership of the yacht was said to be deliberately well hidden. Registered to a company based in the islands of St Kitts and Nevis, the vessel carried Maltese flags “to hide its origins”, said the NCA.

Andy Devine, the agency’s head of Border Investigations said the seizure demonstrated the NCA’s ability to act quickly. “The NCA plays a vital role in targeting suspect assets, pursuing enablers of illicit wealth and supporting government partners in the delivery of the response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine,” he said. The operation to arrest the vessel was planned by NCA’s Combatting Kleptocracy Cell, the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Border Force Maritime Intelligence Bureau

The superyacht was docked in Canary Wharf for the Boat International World Superyacht Awards and was due to leave the UK at midday today (March 29th), according to the transport department. “DfT and the agencies are looking at a number of other vessels and hope our strong stance sends an example to international partners,” said the department.

Meanwhile, Phi, is the third biggest yacht built by shipbuilder Royal Huisman made her maiden voyage last year. Named after the mathematical concept, Phi’s design includes what the builders call an “infinite wine cellar” and patented fresh-water swimming pool.


Pictured top: UK transport secretary Grant Shapps, standing alongside the vessel Phi he ordered into detention.

Below: Superyacht seizure. NCA officials served detention papers on the vessel this morning in East London.