Photos: Seized Russian Megayacht Arrives in San Diego

amadea at fiji
Amadea flying the U.S. flag at Fiji, June 7 (Anthony Coley / DOJ)

Published Jun 28, 2022 7:19 PM by The Maritime Executive

The seized Russian yacht Amadea has arrived safely in San Diego after a 5,000-mile voyage from Fiji, concluding her transfer to U.S. custody. She is now moored at a busy ro/ro terminal in National City, just south of Naval Base San Diego. 

The Amadea is a 350-foot motor yacht built in Germany in 2016. U.S. authorities believe that her beneficial owner is the sanctioned Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov, a billionaire with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

When Amadea entered Fijian waters in mid-April, the U.S. filed a request for her seizure with local courts and sent FBI agents to carry out enforcement. The yacht's holding company sued to block them and claimed that the true beneficial owner was an unrelated Russian businessman - an individual with limited financial means for operating a $350 million yacht. The case worked its way up through the country's court system over the course of a month, and in early June, Fiji's Supreme Court issued a final ruling giving custody of the vessel to the U.S. government. 

With a new crew and a new U.S. flag registration, Amadea set off across the Pacific to Hawaii. She put into port in Honolulu on June 17, took on stores and headed onwards to San Diego, arriving on June 27. 

“This yacht seizure should tell every corrupt Russian oligarch that they cannot hide – not even in the remotest part of the world. We will use every means of enforcing the sanctions imposed in response to Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified war in Ukraine," said Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has ruled that the Amadea is subject to forfeiture based on probable cause of violations of U.S. law, including money laundering and conspiracy. The Department of Justice expects that Amadea's forfeiture and sale will proceed. 

The yacht's seizure is among the most public signs of success for Project KleptoCapture, a joint multi-agency operation to find and seize the assets of dozens of Russian billionaires who have ties to Putin.