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What Sank the Superyacht Yogi?

  • By Kim Kavin
  • Updated: March 25, 2013

Yogi, Yacht

yogi-running2-high-res-fin.jpg

In February 2012, the yachting industry was shocked to learn that the acclaimed 197-foot Proteksan-Turquoise Yogi had sunk in the Aegean Sea. She was barely a year old and still collecting awards for her design and craftsmanship, and then suddenly, she was gone.

Now, about a year later, the French Bureau d’Enquêtes sur les Évènements de Mer—also known as BEAmer—has released its 40-page report about the sinking. The report concludes that three aft compartments aboard Yogi flooded, causing the vessel to become unstable and sink. However, the report fails to pinpoint a cause of the flooding.

The report does hint at a possible problem with Yogi ‘s stern door, noting that the door seal had been replaced to make it “a more appropriate color.” Other work in that section of the yacht had included removing and re-installing the stern door to refit chests that held the swim ladders.

The report also states that originally requested warranty work had included addressing crew complaints about overall instability when Yogi was at sea, and that Yogi had a different superstructure than her sisterships, one that raised her center of gravity. The report’s conclusions urge naval architects and designers to “ban architectural options that pose risks for vessel safety,” but stop short of calling Yogi an unstable design.

Following the release of the BEAmer report, Mehmet Karabeyoglu, managing director at Proteksan-Turquoise, issued a statement that affirms the report’s conclusion that the shipyard adhered to all rules and regulations during the construction process. However, he criticized the report as “a limp effort” that contained factual inaccuracies. In particular, he noted that Yogi ‘s owner did originally request a new stability-related test, but then withdrew that request, leaving the yard to assume that everything was fine when the yacht was at sea.

“We can only conclude that stability was not an issue, otherwise the captain would not have sailed for months if he had doubts about stability and certainly would not have sailed into poor weather,” Karabeyoglu stated.

The upshot is that finger-pointing and backroom whispers about what sank Yogi is likely to continue for years to come. The yacht remains about 1,600 feet underwater off the coast of Skyros, Greece.

Click here to view photos of Yogi ‘s tragic end.

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The sinking of superyacht Yogi

motor yacht yogi sinking

A multi-million superyacht lies at the bottom of the Aegean Sea

motor yacht yogi sinking

In February 2012 a virtually new, $39 million megayacht sank in the Aegean Sea.

Only the eight members of the crew were onboard, and they were airlifted to safety.

Yogi was a 60m Turkish-build superyacht. Completed in 2011 at the Proteksan Turquoise yard, the yacht had serene interiors, accommodations of a world-class resort and the technological sophistication of modern vessel.

In the morning of the disaster, she was sailing in wintery conditions from Turkey to France. She made a visit to Turkey for a warranty paint period and now was heading to Cannes. She cleared the Dardanelles straight in the evening of February 16th and soldiered on despite the weather that took a turn for the worse.

Nobody knows what really happened in that grim night. A mayday call was issued at 03:30 hours. She sank at 08:45 in the morning of February 17th, just 19 nautical miles of the Greek island of Skiros.

The eight French members of the crew were picked up by a helicopter from the Hellenic Air Forces.

Super Puma Διάσωση "Yogi"/ SAR "Yogi" from Hellenic Air Force on Vimeo .

M/Y Yogi was sailing under the French flag. The yacht was owned by Stephane Courbit, a wealthy Frenchman.

The cause of the sinking is still unclear. The initial reports said that engine failure while navigating 3m waves was to blame for the sinking. The enquiry results were never published, the owner, the crew, the insurer, all hiring big legal teams to defend them. All the affair was surrounded in an official silence.

M/Y Yogi featured accommodation for 12 guests in six double cabins including a large main deck master suite with lounge and day area. On the features list there was a large jacuzzi on the sun deck, a swimming pool, two beach clubs, a massage room and many more.

Photo credits: EPA, AP, Boat International, Hellenic Air Force.

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Yogi: Inside the largest yacht that ever sank

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Yogi sinking dissected but not proved

A year after the sinking of M/Y Yogi, a new 198-foot (60m) yacht built by Proteksan-Turquoise in Turkey, French investigators have released the report into what happened.

The report by the Bureau d’enquetes sur les evenements de mer (the French Marine Accident Investigation Office, known as BEAmer), carries this caveat: “The analysis of this incident has not been carried out in order to determine or apportion criminal responsibility nor to assess individual or collective liability. Its sole purpose is to identify relevant safety issues and thereby prevent similar accidents in the future.”

Statements from the owner, the shipyard, the classification society, and the flag state authority (France) indicate that the vessel was technically sound and complied with the requirements of the French administration, the report notes.

Still, it sank.

In the early hours of Feb. 17, 2012, M/Y Yogi sank off Skyros Island in the Aegean Sea while en route from Istanbul to Cannes. Its eight crew were rescued. According to the report, here’s what happened:

On Feb. 15, 2012, Yogi sailed from Tuzla, Turkey, to Istanbul for bunkering. As the vessel was not fitted with a stability analysis software, the master carried out the stability calculations on paper. To lighten the vessel and to keep a level trim, the swimming pool tanks were emptied and the DO tanks were left empty, according to Proteksan Turquoise shipyard instructions.

On Feb. 16, the master’s report indicated weather conditions as follows: wind NNW 5-6 with 35-knot gusts. Swell 2-2.50m. Météo France reported wind NE 10-15 knots then NNE 25 knots (30- to 35-knot gusts). Significant wave height between 0.7-1m, sea state slight, then moderate in the western and southwestern part of the basin, reaching 1.3-1.5m after 8 p.m. around Skyros. About 3 a.m., end of the customs inspection and beginning of bunkering (25,000 liters). At 6:15 a.m., getting under way bound to Cannes. At 6:30 p.m., out of Dardanelles straits, pilot dropped. The autopilot setting was 5 degrees maximum rudder angle.The engines were running at 60 percent of the maximum load.

On Feb. 17, about 1:40 a.m., the chief engineer on watch (Chief M1) observed that the starboard engine exhaust expansion ring was split and leaking. As the phone was out of order, he tried to inform the bridge with the interphone but this was defective as well. Chief M1 went up to the bridge and asked the master to stop the starboard engine (there had been no high temperature alarm). At this moment, Chief M2, arrived on the bridge. He closed the two starboard engine exhaust hull valves. At 1:46 a.m., failure confirmation e-mail sent to DPA. The starboard engine was out of service. Soon after, the port engine exhaust and coolant freshwater temperature were also abnormally high. Chief M1 asked the master to slow down; at the same instant the engine automatically shut down. Yogi was stopped and making no way. Starboard broadside to the waves, she was rolling and listing to port. At 2 a.m., the DPA was informed of the second engine failure. The three engineers (the Master Mechanics had also been woken up) undertook the survey of the two seawater suction strainer and of the two engine cooling circuit strainers. The baskets were clean, but it seemed to the engineers that they were frame fit in the chamber without enough clearance and thus the inlet rate of seawater flow was insufficient. The chambers were put back without the baskets, the seawater cross-pipe was bled and the circuit was placed back in service. The service pump circuit (which was feeding the generators) had been set on the propeller shaft stuffing box (max. temp. 35°C, normally cooled by the main engine seawater cooling circuit); but soon after the generators’ coolant pressure was insufficient: back to initial set-up. At 2:20 am, pan-pan alert. About 2:30 a.m., the port engine was restarted and temperatures were back to normal. Chief M2 came to the bridge. When the master clutched in he observed that there was no answer to the helm: the autopilot was off and the two steering engines were “out of order”. The alarm lamps were on and a 30-degree angle to starboard was displayed on the helm angle repeater. In addition he did not succeed in starting the bow thruster. The engineers consider to seal the leak on the starboard exhaust with a thermal blanket (back-up generator insulation) and ratchet straps. Chief M1 and the master mechanics went then aft (without handheld VHF) for a first investigation in the steering room, through the companion hatch on the starboard side of beach club 2: about 15cm of water flooded beach club 2. When they opened the hatch, they observed that the steering room was also partially flooded (30-40cm) without any flooding detection alarm actuation. As the companion hatch was opened, the water was running down from beach club 2 to the steering room and the alarm set off. Chief M1 went back to the engine room and started to pump. The watertight door to access the hi-fog room was then closed by an engineer. The master mechanics went up to the bridge to report to the master and the first officer. The first officer accompanied by the master mechanics (also without hand-held VHF) went to inspect beach club 1 using the outside starboard staircase; taking advantage of a lurch to port, he opened the watertight door, and observed about 1m of water. In order to keep off a route broadside-on to the waves, the engine was kept running dead slow, despite the unavailable helm.

Soon after, the first officer and the master mechanics carried on a second investigation in beach club 1, after they had put on their survival suits. It appeared that the height of water was the same. Due to the tacking, the list shifted to starboard and increased suddenly. Water from the sewage tank flooded the engine room. At 3:25 a.m., DPA in contact with a company in Athens to charter a salvage tug. At 3:40 a.m., the hi-fog room located aft of the engine room was flooded. The draining pumps ran dry. At 3:45 a.m., the Lloyd open form contract was confirmed and the salvage tug went under way. At 4:28 a.m., mayday issued. At 4:40 a.m., last SAT C communication between the vessel and the DPA. About 6 a.m., the crew attempted to reach the liferafts, located on the aft of the sundeck, through the lounge but the two glass windows were blocked closed by the list. The crew did not succeed to break them. The crew found refuge in the superstructure. At 6:43 a.m., the first helicopter cancelled its mission due to a technical failure. At 6:47 a.m., last mobile phone communication between the master and the DPA. At 7:45 a.m., the second helicopter was on task. During the following minutes the stewardess and the rating were winched from the superstructure. Two life rafts were released. As the weather conditions were deteriorating (snow and hail), winching was considered too dangerous. The six other crew members jumped in the water, one after the other, to be winched up. At 8:50 a.m., all crew were in the helicopter bound to Skyros. At 11:04 a.m., the 406 MHz beacon ceased to transmit. Position 38°35.4 N – 025°03.7 E.

Yogi was the third of a three-vessel class built by Proteksan Turquoise shipyard. It was 6.4m longer and differed from the other yachts by a covered sun deck and a hard top. That’s the reason why a 27.9-metric-ton additional keel had been welded to the keel during the build, the report stated. The hull was made of steel and the superstructure of aluminium.

The vessel had two wide access shell doors at the level of the lower deck. The side door on starboard allowed pleasure boat movements from beach club 2. The stern door was used to store two retractable swim ladders. It was accessible from beach club 1. Both doors opened downward and outward. Fitted with joints, they were watertight and weathertight. The locking was done by eight hydraulic jacks fastened on the hull. When closing, if the male part of the jack was not perfectly fit in the door, the locking was impeded and an alarm went off.

Intact stability had been analyzed. An inclining experiment was done on March 17, 2011, in the presence of the local representative of the classification society, who was also the representative of the flag state authority. Damage stability was subjected to several propositions, which were linked to the definition of the watertight compartments proposed by the owner and for which the classification society asked the flag state advice. Indeed, at first, compartment beach club 1 and beach club 2 constituted one compartment (no tightness between the 2 compartments). This arrangement was not compliant to the damage stability criteria.

Watertightness between these compartments had been restored by a watertight hinged door. The compartmentation as well as the watertight doors location was subjected to a new examination after which it had been asked: “Given the type of door fitted between compartment 1 (described as beach club 1) and compartment 2 (described as beach club 2), the damage stability analysis should consider the case when these two compartments are flooded. This door would have to remain closed when the vessel is under way.”

Damage stability had been analyzed. The watertight bulkheads of the vessel should be so arranged that minor hull damage that results in the free flooding of any one compartment will cause the vessel to float at a waterline which, at any point, is not less than 75mm below the weather deck, freeboard deck, or bulkhead deck if not concurrent.

Minor damage should be assumed to occur anywhere in the length of the vessel, but not on a watertight bulkhead.

However, the classification society took into account the flooding of only one beach club and not both. Two months after the delivery, Yogi had a technical call in June 2011 to sort out a problem on the air conditioning system and to repair damages caused by a leak of refrigerant. Some deficiencies noted on the stern door (technical or aesthetic) had been corrected: * repair of hydraulic and electric opening/closing circuits damaged by water infiltrations in the swim ladder stainless chest, and * replacement of the door seal (poorly bonded but tight) by a silicone seal with a more appropriate color. In addition, a 200-liter, two compartment with submersible pumps tank to collect the dripping from the beach clubs had been installed aft of the steering gear in compartment 03. The installation required the modification of the draining circuit. These important modifications, although they affect an installation located under the freeboard deck, do not appear on plans, and the ABS company and the French administration were not informed. The schematic diagram is not part of the approved drawing package. On master’s request (who took command in July 2011), double hose clamps had been fitted on the modified draining circuit connections.

Different works were scheduled during the warranty survey done at the shipyard from October 2011 to February 2012. The major works were to recoat the vessel and to take down the stern door in order to refit the swim ladders chests, and it was necessary to punch the two hinges. The electric connections, the hydraulic spools and the fastening had been renewed. Operations had been monitored by an expert, a naval architect, and tightness tests (passed although the lower part of the stern door had not been tested) had been conducted with fresh water at a pressure of three atmospheres. The tightness had then been checked by the crew during the voyage from Tuzla to Istanbul and from Istanbul to Dardanelles.

However, a projected work list to be done in the frame of the warranty visit shows a specific request linked to the vessel instability (new inclining experiment), problems of submersion of the freeboard marks for some particular loading cases and a request to study an additional VIP cabin.

Loss of stability led to sinking The foundering of the vessel can be explained only by a fast deterioration of the stability, due to a progressive flooding of the three compartments of the aft zone. The gas leak in the starboard engine due to the crazing then cracking of the expansion ring had been preceded by no alarm. BEAmer had been informed of a similar failure on M/Y Petara (the rubber expansion ring, which melted at near 600°C temperature, had been replaced by a metallic ring). As the engineers did not have time to make a temporary repair, the starboard engine was not restarted. The increase of the temperature of the cooling freshwater and of the exhaust in the port engine did not lead to an immediately observable failure of the exhaust expansion ring. The engine shut down automatically, before the master had reduced speed. The engine had been restarted once the cooling seawater circuit had been reset.

The engines were set at 60 percent of maximum load. The sea state and vessel motions did not require to reduce speed. BEAmer does not consider the hypothesis of an air-blocked seawater circuit due to the vessel pitching and rolling. On the other hand, BEAmer considers the hypothesis of an insufficient cooling seawater flow rate, due to strainer basket frame fit in the chamber without enough clearance as an underlying factor contributing to put the vessel in jeopardy. Proteksan Turquoise objects to this hypothesis. (See the builder’s response to this report on page B13.) The cooling temperature thresholds had been exceeded, without the telemonitoring device had allowed the officer to anticipate an “auto shutdown” of the port engine and a major failure of the starboard engine. This malfunction is also an underlying factor.

The changes made to the superstructures led to a raise of the center of gravity. The additional keel do not appear on the as-built plans nor on the free-board report transmitted to the administration. Generally speaking, due to the absence of draught marks (to check the trim and the actual gross weight of the vessel), the stability calculations done on board lacked of precision.

Results of the Feb. 17 loading case calculations show figures hardly at the limits of the required criteria. The intact stability of the yacht appeared inadequate to the crew when the vessel was at sea: even when the wind was moderate the list taken by the vessel was noticeable. When the master wrote the projected work list to be done in the frame of the warranty visit, he requested other inclining experiment in order to check the figures. This request had been rejected by Proteskan Turquoise project manager and suppressed from the final list of works to be done.

This intact stability situation is an underlying factor and points out vulnerability of the vessel. The damage stability analysis has been impaired by a CNSNP advice that was not acted upon, which precised that the analysis should take in consideration the case when both beach clubs would be simultaneously flooded. On the other hand, it is probable that criteria would not have been met if this analysis had considered this requirement. This had been confirmed by the inability of the vessel to right up after the list to starboard had increased.

Considering the presence of 10cm (up to 30cm or more) of water in each of the beach clubs, it appears that the vessel could not right herself. This small reserve stability had been an aggravating factor of the flooding of contiguous compartments. It had led to the foundering of the vessel when the vessel superstructure flooding spots (engine room and crew dinning room air inlets) had been submerged, when the list had been reaching about 40 degrees.

In addition, BEAmer notices that “minor breach” notion puts the vessel survival capacity at risk. The definition should comprehend the entirety of a hull division between two watertight bulkheads and not be limited to one compartment. The side doors located under the level of the free-board deck have to be watertight. The sill of the side doors was under the waterline yet the detailed plans show that the door internal lower sills, protected by a seal, were above the deep waterline (DWL).

However BEAmer observes that International Convention on Load Lines (LL66, 1988 protocol) is not referred in division 242 although it seems particularly relevant in the case of big size side doors opening to watertight compartments. Although it was not part of the planned warranty work list, the disassembly of the stern door had been difficult. These difficulties resulted in meticulous watertightness control, both in the shipyard and at sea. To remain undetected, a water leak should have begun only shortly before the engine failure, with an important flow rate. Moreover, when the height of water is higher than several dozens of centimeters, its origin cannot be identified anymore.

A tightness failure of the stern door seal is the first hypothetical factor of the flooding of Yogi.

The officers on watch had never been alerted by the flooding alarm of the steering room. Given the vessel motions and the height of water observed during the investigation, it should have gone off. This malfunction is the second hypothetical factor contributing to the flooding. The modified draining circuit of the three aft compartments constitutes a “weak link” that could have initiated the spreading of water from one compartment to the two others, through a siphon effect in case of an overflowing of the drips tank, and following the flooding of beach club 1. This malfunction constitutes a third hypothetical factor.

BEAmer observed that the crisis had been managed without unnecessary risk-taking and with cold-blood by the crew, under the master’s authority.

A response issued by Mehmet Karabeyoglu, managing director of Proteksan-Turquoise , available here.

Full report available by clicking here . French and English are in same document.

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Head of Proteksan Turquoise comments on sinking of superyacht Yogi

Following yesterday's news about the sinking of the 60.2m (198ft) Yogi off the coast of Greece , we have an exclusive interview with Mehmet Karabeyoglu, head of Proteksan Turquoise, the yacht's builder, who was understandably distraught over the incident.

Yogi was en route from Turkey where she had finished a warranty paint period, to her berth in the Med. All eight French crew aboard were rescued by the Hellenic Air Force. Capt. Jean Louis Carrel told Greek authorities that although the weather was rough, he believed the sinking was a result of a mechanical failure with the exhaust system.

Karabeyoglu comments, “What I find surprising is that the first mayday call to the boat sinking was nearly seven hours.  They had power as you can see lights on .”

“What we can see is that she survived seven hours without turning over. So this is enough reason for us to believe she could have been saved – although we are not blaming anyone. There was a Force 8 so the weather made things difficult, but she did not sink due to the weather,” he said.

Helenic rescue video of superyacht Yogi sinking

Responding to our question about an exhaust system accident and loss of engine power reported by the crew, Karabeyoglu comments, “They have said it was mechanical failure, that one engine overheated, and broke the exhaust bellows – but there’s a valve underneath it.”

The Hellenic rescue video shows the Yogi crew appropriately mustered on deck next to the wheelhouse wearing their bright red their survival suits when the rescue helicopter approached. A large life raft was deployed and crew clambered down the port side of the heavily listing yacht to the raft where they were rescued by the military swimmers.

Says Karabeyoglu, “At first we thought all these things happened fairly quickly. But the mayday was 00:30, and the rescue happened at 07:30.”

“My partner has spoken to the owner. He is obviously not happy, he loved the boat. She was just repainted, but we did no work in the engine room as it was perfect. No mechanical work other than routine service of the Cat engines. Perhaps they took bad fuel when they refueled in Istanbul.”

“It’s the first time has happened for us, so we not sure what happens next,’ said Karabeyoglu. ‘We have sent people to Athens who will meet with the crew and interview them; we’re doing everything we can to understand what happened. There will be the testimony of crew and the video. You can see water coming out of the side and power on the vessel so the generators were running – you can tell many things, so the engine room was not flooded. You can see exhaust coming from the hull side so one of engine room generators was running.”

Karabeyoglu also told us that in addition to being able to use the engines to pump water out, there were three bilge pumps, one more than class required. The yacht had three generators plus the emergency generator.

Yogi registered 1028 GT and was built to ABS +A1, +AMS and was classed as Commercial Yachting Service (E). Her stunning profile and interior was designed by Jean Guy Verges, who has designed six other builds by the yard. Yogi was the second of three large yachts delivered by Proteksan in 2011.

John Wickham, who issued a statement on behalf of the builder, said that the yard is actively investigating the incident and will release details as available.

Boat International sources learned yesterday that a purchase offer had been made via Camper & Nicholsons just days before the accident and had been expected to be presented to the owner.

Yogi was one of the featured yachts in the August 2011 edition of Boat International

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Russian oligarch Andrey Melnichenko berths superyacht in UAE

A yacht owned by Andrey Melnichenko

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Simeon Kerr in Ras al-Khaimah

Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.

Investigators around the world have been searching for sanctions-hit Russian oligarchs’ yachts. One has been hiding in plain sight.

Italian authorities in March impounded Russian coal and fertilisers magnate Andrey Melnichenko’s $600mn Sailing Yacht A after Russia invaded Ukraine. Another yacht, the $300mn Philippe Starck-designed Motor Yacht A, has been anchored for weeks in the port of Ras al-Khaimah, in the United Arab Emirates.

By placing his yacht in the UAE, Melnichenko has put it beyond the reach of western governments enforcing sanctions on those deemed supportive of Russian president Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine.

Its presence is a symbolic reminder of the Gulf monarchy’s ambivalence towards western sanctions on Russia, allies of Putin and the wealthy businessmen who have often benefited from ties to the state.

While the UAE government is trying to enhance measures against money laundering to exit a global dirty-money watchdog’s watchlist, the economic foundation of cities such as Dubai has long been based on welcoming flows of assets and people.

“Given its non-enforcement of western sanctions, the dilemma for the UAE is how to sustain its place as an open destination for capital while also appearing to be a good global citizen,” said one compliance professional. “It’s a tricky balancing act.”

The government of the Isle of Man said it had in March deregistered Melnichenko’s yachts, including Motor Yacht A, because of western sanctions, saying, “we will continue to act with appropriate robustness should the situation warrant it”.

Marine locator services placed Motor Yacht A off the Maldives in March. The Financial Times then saw the yacht on April 18. On Saturday it remained moored opposite Ras al-Khaimah’s city-centre fish market.

Businessmen in the UAE say Melnichenko, who denies affiliations to the Kremlin, held meetings there in April, but the tycoon has since returned to Moscow. A representative of Melnichenko, who has been placed under sanctions by the EU and UK as well as Switzerland and Australia, referred questions on the yacht to a lawyer who declined to comment.

UAE authorities in Dubai, Ras al-Khaimah and Abu Dhabi declined to comment.

European officials say they have raised concerns with Emirati counterparts that the UAE could become a financial haven for Russians placed under western sanctions. “We don’t want our allies to become facilitators for the Putin regime,” said one.

Russian oligarch Andrey Melnichenko attends an event

The UAE government has said it is maintaining a neutral course through the war, calling for an end to hostilities and providing humanitarian aid to Ukraine. Abu Dhabi, which has developed closer ties with Moscow in recent years, has also assured its allies that sanctions-hit entities will not be able to operate in the UAE. The Gulf monarchy, which has long argued that it is not compelled to enforce other nations’ sanctions, is keen to maintain its historical role as an apolitical territory focused on business.

Thousands of wealthy, non-sanctions-hit Russians have relocated to the UAE to escape economic uncertainty and political instability at home, even though they sometimes struggle to access the financial system. “Big banks are more cautious but smaller banks are offering help to those wishing to relocate. It’s just taking a lot of time,” said a Russian businessman.

Very wealthy Russians generally find financial institutions accommodating. Most of the wealthy elite have second passports from countries that sell nationality, such as Malta or Portugal, which facilitates the opening of new accounts with lenders that are warier of Russian passport holders.

Others have turned to alternative routes, such as cryptocurrencies and hawala, or informal money exchange services. The cost of this service has risen from 1 per cent of the transaction value to 5 per cent since the war broke out as demand surges, said one person aware of the trades.

Many in the UAE see a hypocrisy in western concern over the presence of the yacht and the Russians building new lives there. “So it was OK for London to take all the oligarch money but not for Dubai?” asked one lawyer.

Additional reporting by Nastassia Astrasheuskaya in Riga

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Sanctioned Russian oligarch’s megayacht hides in a UAE creek

The 118-meter (387-foot) Motor Yacht A belonging to  Russian oligarch Andrey Melnichenko is anchored in the port of Ras al-Khaimah, United Arab Emirates, Tuesday, May 31, 2022. In the dusty, northern-most sheikhdom of the United Arab Emirates, Motor Yacht A, one of the world's largest yachts, sits in the quiet port — so far avoiding the fate of other luxury vessels linked to sanctioned Russian oligarchs. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

The 118-meter (387-foot) Motor Yacht A belonging to Russian oligarch Andrey Melnichenko is anchored in the port of Ras al-Khaimah, United Arab Emirates, Tuesday, May 31, 2022. In the dusty, northern-most sheikhdom of the United Arab Emirates, Motor Yacht A, one of the world’s largest yachts, sits in the quiet port — so far avoiding the fate of other luxury vessels linked to sanctioned Russian oligarchs. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

This satellite image from Planet Labs PBC shows Motor Yacht A, belonging to Russian oligarch Andrey Melnichenko, moored in Ras al-Khaimah, United Arab Emirates, May 12, 2022. In the dusty, northern-most sheikhdom of the United Arab Emirates, Motor Yacht A, one of the world’s largest yachts, sits in the quiet port — so far avoiding the fate of other luxury vessels linked to sanctioned Russian oligarchs. (Planet Labs PBC via AP)

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RAS AL-KHAIMAH, United Arab Emirates (AP) — In the dusty, northern-most sheikhdom of the United Arab Emirates, where laborers cycle by rustic tea shops, one of the world’s largest yachts sits in a quiet port — so far avoiding the fate of other luxury vessels linked to sanctioned Russian oligarchs.

The display of lavish wealth is startling in one of the UAE’s poorest emirates, a 90-minute drive from the illuminated high-rises of Dubai. But the 118-meter (387-foot) Motor Yacht A’s presence in a Ras al-Khaimah creek also shows the UAE’s neutrality during Russia’s war on Ukraine as the Gulf country remains a magnet for Russian money and its oil-rich capital sees Moscow as a crucial OPEC partner .

Since Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine, the seven sheikhdoms of the Emirates have offered a refuge for Russians, both those despairing of their country’s future as well as the mega-wealthy concerned about Western sanctions .

While much of the world has piled sanctions on Russian institutions and allies of President Vladimir Putin, the Emirates has not. It also avoids overt criticism of the war, which government readouts still refer to as the “Ukraine crisis.”

The Motor Yacht A belongs to Andrey Melnichenko, an oligarch worth some $23.5 billion, according to Forbes. He once ran the fertilizer producer Eurochem and SUEK, one the the world’s largest coal companies.

The European Union in March included Melnichenko in a mass list of sanctions on business leaders and others described as close to Putin. The EU sanctions noted he attended a Feb. 24 meeting Putin held the day of the invasion.

“The fact that he was invited to attend this meeting shows that he is a member of the closest circle of Vladimir Putin and that he is supporting or implementing actions or policies which undermine or threaten the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine, as well as stability and security in Ukraine,” the EU said at the time.

Melnichenko resigned from the corporate positions he held in the two major firms, according to statements from the companies. However, he has criticized Western sanctions and denied being close to Putin.

Melnichenko could not be reached for comment through his advisers.

Already, authorities in Italy have seized one of his ships — the $600 million Sailing Yacht A. France, Spain and Britain as well have sought to target superyachts tied to Russian oligarchs as part of a wider global effort to put pressure on Putin and those close to him.

But the $300 million Motor Yacht A so far appears untouched. It flew an Emirati flag on Tuesday when Associated Press journalists observed the ship. Two crew members milled around the deck.

The boat’s last recorded position on March 10 put it off the Maldives in the Indian Ocean, just over 3,000 kilometers (1,860 miles) from Ras al-Khaimah. Satellite images from Planet Labs PBC analyzed by the AP show the vessel in Ras al-Khaimah’s creek beginning March 17, a week later.

The Financial Times first reported on the ship’s presence in the UAE .

Authorities in Ras al-Khaimah did not respond to a request for comment on the yacht’s presence. The UAE’s Foreign Ministry did not answer questions about the ship, but said in a statement to the AP that it takes “its role in protecting the integrity of the global financial system extremely seriously.”

But so far, the UAE has taken no such public action targeting Russia. The country abstained on a U.N. Security Council vote in February condemning Russia’s invasion , angering Washington.

The neutral response may stem from “the financial gain we’re seeing in Dubai in terms of new tourist arrivals, and Russian efforts to move assets and buy property,” said Karen Young, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Middle East Institute.

The flow of Russian money — both legitimate and shady — is now an open secret in Dubai, where lavish hotels and beaches increasingly bustle with Russian speakers. State-run radio hosts cheerily describe a massive influx.

The UAE became one of the few remaining flight corridors out of Moscow. The Emirati government offered three-month multiple-entry visas upon arrival to all Russians, allowing major companies to easily transfer their employees from Moscow to Dubai. The private jet terminal at Al Maktoum International at Dubai World Central has seen a 400% spike in traffic, the airport’s CEO recently told the AP .

Real estate agents have reported a surge of interest from Russians seeking to buy property in Dubai , particularly in the skyscrapers of Dubai Marina and villas on the Palm Jumeirah.

For those who want to move to the UAE, buying high-end property also helps secure a visa.

“Business is booming right now,” said Thiago Caldas, CEO of the Dubai-based property firm Modern Living, which now accepts cryptocurrency to facilitate sales with new Russian clients. “They have a normal life and don’t face restrictions.”

Caldas said inquiries from Russian clients in Dubai have multiplied by over 10 since the war, forcing his firm to hire three Russian-speaking agents to deal with the deluge.

With sanctions on Russian banks and businesses thwarting many citizens’ access to foreign capital, Russians are increasingly trying to bypass bank transfers through digital currencies in Dubai, said two cryptocurrency traders in the city, where they’re able to liquidate large sums of cash.

“It’s a safe haven. … The inflow from Russian accounts skyrocketed 300% days after the war in Ukraine began,” said a Russian crypto trader in Dubai, who spoke like the other on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala state investment company remains among the most active sovereign wealth funds in Russia, along with those of China and Qatar, according to calculations by Javier Capapé of IE University in Spain for the AP.

But pressure is growing. Late on Tuesday, the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi posted a strongly worded video message in solidarity with Ukraine featuring local ambassadors from the world’s leading democracies as Russia’s foreign minister visits the region.

“We are united against Russia’s unjustifiable, unprovoked and illegal aggression,” said Ernst Peter Fischer, Germany’s ambassador to the UAE.

Follow Isabel DeBre and Jon Gambrell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/isabeldebre and www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP.

JON GAMBRELL

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By SuperyachtNews 21 Feb 2013

BEAmer report into 'Yogi' sinking published

Beamer has published the results of its investigation into the sinking of 'yogi'. the report outlines recommendations for owners, builders class societies and flag states, in light of its research.….

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“The report fails to add any constructive value [to the situation] because it focuses on criticising general rules and design issues that the whole world builds to." - Mehmet Karabeyoglu

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Underwater image of orca next to a boat's rudder

Yacht sinks after latest incident involving orcas in strait of Gibraltar

Vessel measuring 15 metres in length sank after encounter with the animals, Spain’s maritime rescue service reports

An unknown number of orcas have sunk a yacht after ramming it in Moroccan waters in the strait of Gibraltar, Spain’s maritime rescue service has said, in the latest in a series of similar incidents involving the animals.

The vessel, Alboran Cognac, which measured 15 metres (49ft) in length and carried two people, encountered the highly social apex predators, also known as killer whales, at 9am local time on Sunday.

The passengers reported feeling sudden blows to the hull and rudder before the boat started taking on water. After alerting the rescue services, a nearby oil tanker took them onboard and transported them to Gibraltar. The yacht was left adrift and eventually sank.

The incident is the latest example of recurring orca rammings around the Gibraltar strait that separates Europe from Africa and off the Atlantic coast of Portugal and north-western Spain. Experts believe them to involve a subpopulation of about 15 individuals given the designation “Gladis”.

According to the research group GT Atlantic Orca, which tracks populations of the Iberian orca sub-species, there have been nearly 700 interactions since orca attacks on ships in the region were first reported in May 2020.

Researchers are unsure about the causes for the behaviour, but theories include that it is a playful manifestation of the mammals’ curiosity, a social fad or the intentional targeting of what they perceive as competitors for their favourite prey, the local bluefin tuna.

Although known as killer whales, endangered orcas are part of the dolphin family. They can measure up to 8 metres in length and weigh up to 6 tonnes as adults.

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Orcas have sunk another vessel off the European coast. Why won't they stop ramming boats?

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The orcas are at it again: for the seventh time in four years, a pod of whales has sunk a boat after ramming it in Moroccan waters off the Strait of Gibraltar. 

The 15 metre-long yacht Alborán Cognac, which carried two people, encountered the highly social apex predators at 9am local time on Sunday, Spain's maritime rescue service said.

The passengers reported feeling sudden blows to the hull and rudder before water started to seep into the sailboat. It is not known how many orcas were involved.

After alerting rescue services, a nearby oil tanker took them onboard and carried them to Gibraltar, a British overseas territory on Spain's southern coast.

Nothing could be done to save the sailboat, which drifted and eventually sank. 

It's the latest incident in what has become a trend of hundreds of interactions between orcas and boats since the "disruptive behaviour" was first reported in the region in May 2020. 

The origin of this new behaviour has baffled scientists, though the leading theory suggests this "social fad" began as a playful manifestation of the whales' curiosity.

Where have orcas interacted with boats?

The latest data from the Atlantic Orca Working Group (GTOA), an organisation that contributes to the animals' conservation and management, shows that there have been at least 673 interactions since 2020. 

GTOA defines interactions as instances when orcas react to the presence of approaching boats with or without physical contact. 

The map below shows the highest numbers of encounters from April to May 2024 took place off Spain's southern coast in the Strait of Gibraltar (red zones), with some lesser activity in surrounding areas (yellow zones). 

Orca encounters

A 2022 peer-reviewed study published in the Marine Mammal Science journal found the orcas in these areas preferred interacting with sailboats — both monohulls (72 per cent) and catamarans (14 per cent) — with an average length of 12 metres.

A clear pattern emerged of orcas striking their rudders, while sometimes also scraping the hulls with their teeth. Such attacks often snapped the rudder, leaving the boat unable to navigate.

"The animals bumped, pushed and turned the boats," the authors of the report said. 

Adding this week's encounter, there have been seven reported cases of orcas damaging a boat so badly that it has sunk, though the people onboard were rescued safely each time.

In June 2023, a run-in with the giant mammals in the Strait of Gibraltar forced the crew competing in The Ocean Race to drop its sails and raise a clatter in an attempt to scare the approaching orcas off. 

No-one was injured, but Team JAJO skipper Jelmer van Beek said that it had been a "scary moment".

"Three orcas came straight at us and started hitting the rudders," he said.

"Impressive to see the orcas, beautiful animals, but also a dangerous moment for us as a team ... Luckily, after a few attacks, they went away."

After analysing 179 videos and photos of these types of interactions, which lasted on average 40 minutes, researchers concluded there was no reason to classify the events as intentionally hostile behaviour.

"The behaviour of orcas when interacting with boats is not identified as aggressive," they said.

"One of their main motivations has been identified as competition with boats for speed."

Still, the researchers of the study admitted they were not sure what triggered the novel behaviour in 2020.

"We are not yet certain what the origin of these interactions is, but it is still suspected that it could be a curious and playful behaviour," they wrote.

"[The behaviour] could be self-induced, or on the other hand it could be a behaviour induced by an aversive incident and therefore a precautionary behaviour."

Are the same orcas responsible for these incidents?

Out of around 49 orcas living in the Strait of Gibraltar, GTOA researchers found a total of 15 whales  from at least three different communities participated in the unusual interactions with boats between 2020 and 2022.

Most of those that engaged with greater intensity were juveniles, though it's unclear if others have since joined the group.

These giant mammals, which belong to the dolphin family, can measure up to eight metres and weigh up to six tonnes as adults.

The director of the Orca Behaviour Institute, Monika Wieland Shields, has said there is no evidence to prove the theory these whales were seeking vengeance against humans for a past trauma.

"While I'm sure it feels like an attack for the people on board, for the whales themselves, it really looks more like play behaviour," she said.

"There's something intriguing or entertaining to them about this [boat rudder] mechanism and they're just showing a lot of curiosity about it."

Ms Wieland said it's likely this new behaviour spread through the population as a kind of "social fad".

"Orcas are highly intelligent, very social animals, and with that comes a tendency to be curious about and explore your environment," she said.

"One thing that we see are these kind of fad behaviours that will appear in a certain population.

"One whale discovers something, they find it entertaining or interesting, or fun — it's some type of game. And then they will teach that to other members of their family group."

Are orcas dangerous to humans?

While orcas have earned their fearsome reputation for preying on other marine animals, there is no record of them killing humans in the wild. 

In captivity, orcas have killed four people since the 1990s, though it's unclear whether the deaths were accidental or deliberate attempts to cause harm.  

Ms Shields said she was worried the recent interactions between orcas and boats would skew people's perceptions of these mammals.

"I am concerned that people are going to react with fear, potentially injure or shoot at some of these whales," Ms Shields said.

"We really need to educate boaters about the best things that they can do to make themselves less attractive to the whales and the best case scenario would be the whales lose interest in this and move onto something less destructive."

Spain's Transport Ministry advises that whenever boats observe any changes in the behaviour of orcas — such as in their direction or speed — they should leave the area as soon as possible and avoid further disturbance to the animals.

The ministry also states every interaction between a ship and an orca must be reported to authorities.

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Killer whales attack and sink another yacht in Strait of Gibraltar

A sailing yacht sunk in the Strait of Gibraltar on Sunday after an unknown number of orcas  slammed into the vessel with two people on board and caused a water leak, officials said. Both crew members were rescued by a passing oil tanker, said Spain's maritime rescue service, marking the latest killer whale attack on a boat in what has become a pattern in recent years.

The incident happened at around 9 a.m. local time in the narrow strait between Spain and Morocco that has become a notorious site of human interactions with pods of killer whales that, for reasons still not fully understood, ram into boats and at times even sink them . In this case, crew members on board the SV Alboran Cognac yacht put out an emergency call for an evacuation after they encountered orcas roughly 14 miles off the coast of Cape Spartel. 

The crew members reported feeling blows to the hull of the vessel and rudder, which was damaged by the whales, the rescue service said. The agency's coordination center in Tarifa, on the Spanish side of the Strait of Gibraltar, helped arrange for their evacuation via the tanker MT Lascaux. The tanker was able to collect the crew members from the sinking yacht within the hour, and they disembarked in Gibraltar before 10:30 a.m. They abandoned the SV Alboran Cognac, which proceeded to completely disappear into the ocean.

Anyone sailing through waters from the Gulf of Cádiz in southern Spain and the Strait of Gibraltar, either in a larger motorized vessel or a personal sailing boat, is advised to avoid certain areas that the maritime rescue service marks as potentially dangerous spots for orca interactions. The greatest threats exist between May and August, when officials say that pods of killer whales are most commonly seen in those parts of the Atlantic. 

But previously recorded incidents suggest those dangers may be present at any time. Last October, a Polish boat touring company reported that a pod of orcas had managed to sink one of its yachts after repeatedly slamming into the steering fin for 45 minutes, causing it to leak. Last June, two sailing teams competing in an international race around the world reported frightening scenarios in which multiple orcas rammed into or pushed up against their boats or as they sailed west of Gibraltar. 

No one on board any of the vessels was hurt in those encounters, but the documented rise in confrontational behavior has researchers and sailors trying to determine why orcase have attempted to sink or capsize so many boats off the coasts of Spain and Portugal. 

Some sailors have even resorted to blasting thrash metal music in a bid to deter the apex predators.

Reports of orcas interacting with humans have more than tripled in the last two years or so, according to the research group GTOA, which has documented hundreds of such incidents in the region since 2020. But some of the latest data points to possible changes in the orcas' etiquette, with the group reporting only 26 interactions in the Strait of Gibraltar and Bay of Biscay areas between January and May of this year. That number is 65% lower than the number of interactions recorded in the region over the same months last year, and 40% lower than the average number of interactions recorded in the same months between 2021 and 2023, according to GTOA.

FILE PHOTO: The Rock of Gibraltar is seen from a ferry in the Strait of Gibraltar

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90 Sunreef Power yacht honored with the Golden Crown in the category Discovery of the year on the Russian market

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Killer Whales Sunk a 50-Foot Sailing Yacht in the Strait of Gibraltar

It's just the latest in a string of orca attacks on sailboats., tori latham, tori latham's most recent stories.

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An orca in the ocean

Two sailors had a whale of a time over the weekend—but only in the technical sense.

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“This was a scary moment,” the skipper Jelmer van Beek said at the time. “Three orcas came straight at us and started hitting the rudders. Impressive to see the orcas, beautiful animals, but also a dangerous moment for us as a team.”

The ship that sank after an orca attack last year

While that attack didn’t result in the sinking of the ship, another sailing yacht sank near the Tanger Med port in November, The New York Times wrote. The crew of that ship had to abandon the boat after a group of orcas slammed into the rudder for a whole 45 minutes. (The whales have seemingly been targeting sailboats in particular.)

Researchers don’t know for sure why the whales have been attacking boats, but they think it may be one of the ways the orcas play, the Times said—a pretty dangerous form of amusement, albeit. Others have theorized that it’s a short-term fad among the animals, or that one orca experienced a traumatic event that made it aggressive and other whales began to mimic that behavior. The incidents have become so common in recent years that sailors trade advice online about how to maneuver in the Strait of Gibraltar area, and the Spanish government issued a release that included tips for sailors.

Tori Latham is a digital staff writer at Robb Report. She was previously a copy editor at The Atlantic, and has written for publications including The Cut and The Hollywood Reporter. When not…

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Orcas sink boat with two passengers on board in Strait of Gibraltar

motor yacht yogi sinking

Orcas attacked and sank a boat in the Strait of Gibraltar, prompting Spanish officials to issue a warning to sailors in case they ever encounter one of the giant sea mammals.

On Sunday, orcas sank a 10-meter-long boat with two passengers on board. The passengers, who were able to notify authorities in time, were rescued after receiving help from a nearby oil tanker and Moroccan authorities, states Salvamento Marítimo , Spain’s maritime rescue service, in a press release.

The boat sank near Cape Spartel, a promontory in Morocco near the entrance of the Strait of Gibraltar, a channel that connects the Mediterranean Sea  to the  Atlantic Ocean between Spain and Africa.

The country's Ministry of Transport and Sustainable Mobility prepared a list of things to do in case boats or yachts meet a pack of killer whales at the wrong place and at the wrong time.

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How to handle an orca encounter

According to the agency , people who encounter orcas while on a vessel should do the following:

  • Don't go near the side of the boat. Move to a space in the middle of the vessel where they're protected from sudden movements.
  • If the whales try interacting with the boat, don't stop the boat or turn off the motor. Move towards the coast or shallower waters.
  • Report the event to officials, even if the boat doesn't take damage.

Why are whales attacking marine vessels?

For the past four years, hundreds of incidents have occurred between orcas and boats or yachts.

And interactions still remain a mystery, Alfredo López, a University of Santiago biologist, previously told USA TODAY.

However, the whales' reasoning for the attacks could be as innocent as playful curiosity or as nefarious as targeting the vessels they perceive as competition for food.

Graphics: Why are orcas attacking boats and sometimes sinking them?

Contributing: Ramon Padilla , USA TODAY

Julia is a trending reporter for USA TODAY. She has covered various topics, from local businesses and government in her hometown, Miami, to tech and pop culture.   You can follow her on  X, formerly Twitter ,  Instagram  and  TikTok : @juliamariegz

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Orcas Sink Another Boat Near Iberia, Worrying Sailors Before Summer

Two people were rescued on Sunday after orcas damaged their boat near the Strait of Gibraltar, where the animals have caused havoc in recent years.

Two orcas are visible just above the surface of a body of water, with a small boat in the background.

By Isabella Kwai

Summer is on the way, meaning that the orcas are out to play near the Strait of Gibraltar — which is bad news for sailors.

Two people were rescued on Sunday after an attack by a group of orcas caused enough damage to sink their boat, according to the Spanish maritime rescue service. It was the fifth such sinking in waters off the Iberian Peninsula and North Africa in recent years.

The Alboran Cognac, a sailing yacht about 50 feet long, was approached by the animals on Sunday morning, some 14 miles off Cape Spartel in Morocco, the rescue service said. Crew members onboard reported that the animals had slammed the hull, damaged the rudder and caused a leak.

A nearby oil tanker quickly maneuvered toward the boat and evacuated the two sailors, who were taken to Gibraltar, the rescue service said. The boat was left adrift, and the Moroccan authorities reported that it eventually sank.

It’s the first boat to sink in those waters this year after an orca-related mishap. A group of orcas that traverse the Strait of Gibraltar and nearby waters has plagued sailors and intrigued marine biologists , who are studying the population. Since 2020, orcas have disrupted dozens of sailing journeys in these high-traffic waters, in some cases slamming vessels hard enough to cause critical damage.

Last November, orcas slammed a yacht’s rudder for 45 minutes, causing its crew to abandon the vessel, which sank near the Tanger Med port.

The group is more likely to appear in the busy lanes around the Gulf of Cadiz and the Strait of Gibraltar between April and August, the Spanish government said in a news release, and sailors have spotted some of the orcas there in recent weeks.

Researchers do not know why the pod is targeting boats, but they have theorized that the behavior is a form of play for the curious apex predators. The interactions have become so frequent that they are now a multinational issue, involving scientists and officials from Spain, Portugal and Morocco. Online, anxious sailors have gathered to share advice on navigating “orca alley,” and biologists are tracking the orcas’ movements and testing methods that could deter them.

In the event of an orca encounter, the government advised in its release, boats should not stop but instead head toward shallower waters near the coast.

But the number of incidents may be declining: Researchers at the Atlantic Orca Working Group said on Monday that the number of orca interactions with boats between January and May had dropped some 40 percent, compared with that of similar periods in the past three years.

Isabella Kwai is a Times reporter based in London, covering breaking news and other trends. More about Isabella Kwai

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  1. Yogi: The Sinking of a Megayacht

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  2. Following Up on Megayacht Yogi Sinking

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  3. The sinking of superyacht Yogi

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  6. Following Up on Megayacht Yogi Sinking

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COMMENTS

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  21. Orcas Sink 50-Foot Yacht Off the Coast of Morocco

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