Crew caught up in divorce dispute

The crew of mega yacht Luna are stuck in Dubai waters as part of a freezing order, imposed by the English High Court. Credit: Hrvoje Jelavic/Pixsell/PA Images

An estimated 30 crew members are reported to be detained onboard the Marshall Islands flagged superyacht M/Y Luna, currently berthed in Dubai waters. The luxury yacht is currently part of a freezing order, imposed by the English High Court in December 2016, during the divorce proceedings between Russian oil and gas tycoon billionaire Farkhan Akhmedov and his wife Tatiana.

The freezing order, along with the detention of the vessel in October 2018, has meant that the crew onboard the superyacht have been stranded in Dubai since the court order was issued.

The marine union Nautilus international are working with the seafarers, previously securing the release and return of their passports after being seized by the Dubai local authorities. However, Nautilus has urged caution in this situation to the crew and advised them not to violate the court order by taking part in the removal of the vessel from Dubai.

Nautilus international representative Danny McGowan commented, “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.”

David Hammond, founder of Human Rights at Sea, an independent charity aiming to end and challenge human rights abuses at sea, told Safety at Sea, “In this case, the crew have the very capable engagement of the Nautilus union, though as a wider issue for other super yacht seafarers who are not part of a union with its associated representative safeguards, being caught up in such circumstances may leave them little opportunity to exert and ensure protection of their individual human and labour rights.”

The M/Y Luna is among the £453 million assets that the court has ordered Akhmedov to hand over to his estranged wife. The ship was built in 2010 and originally owned by Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich.