Gradually, more and more superyachts owned by Russian oligarchs are disappearing from the tracking systems of the world’s oceans. Many of the yachts were last spotted in the Maldives. Then owners are said to have switched off the “Automatic Identification System” – this was revealed by research by the British “Observer”.

Since the start of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine, more and more yachts belonging to Russian oligarchs have disappeared from the scene. Numerous superyachts owned by billionaires who fear their assets will be frozen and their ships confiscated are no longer tracked on global tracking systems.

At least six superyachts whose owners are sanctioned by Britain have disappeared from the radar for weeks. This was the result of research by the British newspaper ” Observer “. With a simple trick, mega yachts can make themselves virtually invisible: the “Automatic Identification System” (AIS) has to be switched off for this. All ships over 300 gross register tons worldwide can be located with the AIS. Their owners are required to turn on the AIS during sea passages and at anchorages.

Analysts report that more and more Russian yachts have switched off the AIS. “We were told to turn off the AIS,” a crew member on a sanctioned oligarch’s yacht told The Observer. Many of the yachts were last seen in the Maldives. The Maldives does not have an extradition treaty with the United States. At least five Russian-owned ships have docked around the Maldives since the invasion.

When asked by the newspaper, none of the six oligarchs whose ships are suspected of having switched off the AIS responded. According to the industry, there are about 9,300 superyachts worth more than £50 billion. An estimated 10 percent of this fleet is owned by Russians.