UPDATE: 22 FEBRUARY, 2017. Following our story below and agreement among the parties in the Gibraltar Supreme Court, Sailing Yacht A has been released from admiralty arrest and departed for the Mediterranean. A spokesperson for Mr Melnichenko confirmed, 'This unfortunate incident concerning sailing yacht A is now resolved, as expected by us. We are very pleased the Court listened to our arguments and ruled accordingly.' 'Nobiskrug is very content with the court’s decision,' said a spokesperson for the shipyard. 'The court has followed our line of argument and has taken full account of our security interest.'
Commissioned by Russian owner Andrei Melnichenko and described by Holger Kahl, managing director of Nobiskrug, as “one of the most visionary projects Nobiskrug has ever been involved in,” 142.8m S/Y A was seized last Wednesday just hours after arriving in Gibraltar. She had left Kiel on 5 February to complete fitting out works and sea trials in Spain.
The Gibraltar Chronicle reported that the local law firm Triay Stagnetto Neish, acting for Nobiskrug, filed a claim against the yacht for breach of contract on 15 February. The public document states that the final €9.8 million instalment, due on 27 January as stated in the shipbuilding contract, was not paid by Valla Yachts Limited, the company that owns S/Y A. The German builder is also claiming additional sums of €2.6m and €2.9m for subcontractor invoices and disputed orders during the build, bringing the total claim to over €15 million plus interest.
Nobiskrug declined to comment, but a PR spokesperson for S/Y A described the arrest as “an astounding act for a shipbuilder of Nobiskrug’s standing,” adding that “with a project of this magnitude there are sometimes outstanding issues to be resolved.” The statement goes on to explain that the €9.8 million claimed for payment is part of an ongoing discussion between the owner and the shipyard:
“We assumed the matter was progressing to a resolution as Nobiskrug were happy to release the yacht on February 5th to the owner’s project team for further works to be carried out in Spain. The money was paid by the owner the following day into an Escrow account pending a resolution of the discussions. All monies now being claimed are in arbitration and there will be a tribunal hearing on Tuesday next week.”
That hearing in the UK courts has been adjourned to a later date, but the spokesperson told SuperyachtNews that "We have every confidence that this arrest will be terminated shortly and S/Y A will leave Gibraltar for her next destination." According to our source in Gibraltar, the interested parties met in the Gibraltar court this morning to agree financial security for the release of the vessel, and are due to convene again tomorrow.
This is not Mr Melnichenko's first legal dispute involving his yachts. In 2013 he filed a multi-million claim in a New Jersey court against coatings giant AkzoNobel for damages related to not one, but two, paint jobs of superyacht A, the 119m predecessor to sailing yacht A. The issues encompassed 'the paint appearing to run and coasts separating causing "lines and sags" and an overall "cloudy" appearance'.The damages included the cost of a replacement vessel while the motoryacht was being repainted.
Nor is it the first time a superyacht has been seized in Gibraltar. Back in 2012, contruction of a 75m yacht designed by Tim Heywood at the San Marco shipyard in La Spezia came to a halt for no official reason. The unfinished yacht was removed under tow for an unknown destination, only to be stopped in Gibraltar where Monaco Yachting & Technologies, which had represented the original owner, had her impounded. It was eventually towed to the Nobiskrug facility in Rendsburg, before finishing up at Icon Yachts in the Netherlands, where she is being modified and completed under new ownership.