Russian mega-yacht owned by Putin friend docks in Port of Palm Beach

10:01 a.m. Monday, Nov. 20, 2017 Local
Pictured is Eclipse, a 533-foot private yacht owned by Russian businessman Roman Abramovich, seen at the Port of Palm Beach. (Andres Leiva / The Palm Beach Post)

UPDATED:

Days before President Trump flies into town for Thanksgiving, one of the world’s most expensive yachts, owned by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, sailed into the Port of Palm Beach Friday afternoon.

But don’t get all collusion-delusional. Abramovich’s spokesman said the billionaire isn’t aboard — the ship’s just in town for scheduled maintenance.

The 533-foot Eclipse, valued at $400 million to $500 million, comes equipped with a pool, helipad, submarine and room for a crew of 92, according to marine websites. It made its way past The Bahamas and docked at 1:15 p.m, taking the slip normally reserved for the Grand Celebration, a cruise ship on hurricane-relief duty in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.

Originally booked to stay through Dec. 5, the Eclipse might have to leave Dec. 1, as it is being followed by the 644-foot World, billed as “the largest private residential ship on the planet,” which is scheduled to arrive that day.

Where will the Eclipse go?

The MarineTraffic app had it headed south on the Intracoastal Waterway, toward downtown West Palm Beach. Or at least it did — that flight plan vanished from the app on Saturday. Maybe they found out, as we were told, a ship that big would run aground in the Waterway.

Note to Transportation Security Administration: In any event, that route would have put a Russian submarine within a mile or so of the winter White House.

Forbes lists Abramovich’s net worth at $9.5 billion, the world’s 139th-richest person, with major holdings in steel, nickel and oil companies, as well as Britain’s Chelsea soccer team.

Bloomberg Politics has reported that presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner has met Abramovich one-on-one and with their wives on a number of occasions.We’re told they haven’t been in touch since a charity dinner in 2014, though.

No word on whether Abramovich, 51, said to be a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has met President Trump.

A White House spokesperson said the President has no meetings scheduled for his upcoming visit to Palm Beach.

Trump campaign participants have been under investigation by a special prosecutor about whether they colluded with Russians believed to have interfered in the presidential election on Trump’s behalf.

According to Michael Rafferty, a broker with the Palm Beach office of International Yacht Co., the Eclipse is the second biggest private yacht in the world.

Submarines are becoming popular on yachts of that caliber, he said. “Helicopters are pretty much standard on the bigger boats. Submarines are becoming a popular toy.”

At the recent Fort Lauderdale boat show, he said, one yacht was set up with snow skiing equipment, to allow for helicoptering to a glacier for skiing.

This month, Berth One International, a new venture at the Port of Palm Beach, was launched to help fill the demand of super yachts — defined as privately owned vessels longer than 100 feet.

The berth at the port’s northern end can hold up to two 180-foot yachts, or one larger yacht of up to 400 feet. With a depth of 27 feet, the berth’s waters can accommodate the huge vessels with their deep drafts of 15 to 20 feet.

“It’s a very good thing for the economy in Palm Beach” to have vessels of that size arriving, Rafferty said. “It’s very valuable for our business.”

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