Russian superyacht nowhere to be seen. But is it still coming to Cape Town?

‘Vessel is Out of Range’. That’s about all you get about the Russian-owned superyacht NORD, which caused a brief political kerfuffle in late October when news broke that the floating palace was heading to Cape Town.

Officially its destination is still Cape Town,  with an estimated arrival sometime in November, but its last reported position was on October 24, at which time it was somewhere near the Malacca Straight.

Will it make it all the way to Slaapstad?  Very unlikely, or so say maritime stakeholders with an interest in the matter.

To date nobody has confirmed any berthing request or even an enquiry, though needless to say the information may be ‘confidential’.  Neither Transnet National Ports Authority nor the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront have had any requests or expressions of interest from those at the helm of the hugely expensive piece of boating eye-candy.  According to Marine Traffic website, NORD was built last year, sails under a Russian flag, and has an overall length of 141.63m.

NORD’S owner is widely reported to be Russian steel tycoon Alexey Mordashov, whose name also appears on a list of UN sanctioned individuals. Partly as a result of this blacklisting, and the ongoing horrors in Ukraine, news of NORD’S impending visit prompted an outcry from Cape Town mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis who called on national government to block NORD from entering South Africa’s territorial waters.

Unsurprisingly there was no rush to accede to the mayor’s request, and instead the Presidency clarified South Africa’s neutral stance in the Russia-Ukraine war.

One maritime source insisted NORD has less chance of arriving in Cape Town than one of Captain Nick Sloane’s Antarctic icebergs.  “The fact that Cape Town is the listed destination means nothing,” said the source, whose view is shared by most who spoke to SABBEX.  “Why would the boat sail into a political storm here when it could go hide away at a more friendly location – an Island somewhere.”

On the other hand a visit from one of the world’s fanciest superyachts could be just the tonic needed to bolster Cape Town’s ambitions of becoming a superyacht service and maintenance hub.

Think what it could do for local tourism?

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