Le Grand Bleu

Of all the ships that come and go in St. John’s Harbour, Le Grand Bleu might just be one of this year’s most unusual.

350 feet in length, and weighing 5500 gross tonnes in weight, Le Grand Bleu is one of the five largest private yachts in the world.

Yes, it’s a private yacht.

Jeff McGrath, manager of Marine Operations and Security at the St. John’s Port Authority says St. John’s has been a regular pit stop for the boat these past few months.

“It was on its way to Greenland and stopped in St. John’s three weeks ago for fuel to go up north,” he says. “Then it was on its way back down to head to the Florida region when it had to stop here again for some fuel and repairs.”

“When people think of yachts they think of small pleasure crafts, but this yacht normally has a helicopter and two 80 foot sail boats attached to it,” says McGrath. “The helicopter was left in Greenland when the crew came here, but it’s part of the vessel. On board the yacht are 50 crew members who are managing the boat, and they come from all parts of the world,” says McGrath.

The mega yacht made its debut in 2000, and was constructed in the Vulkan Shipyard, a shipyard on the Mediterranean coast famous for designing and constructing large yachts.

“Mega yachts are constructed primarily in foreign dockyards and it’s all done under the head advisory of naval architects,” says McGrath. “Everything has to come in place with these ships, welding, pipefitting, fabrication, marine systems. It usually takes two to three years for these yachts to be built.”

In 2002, American businessman John McCaw Jr. sold the yacht to Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich. It’s rumoured that in 2006 Abramovich gave the boat as a present to his friend and fellow Russian billionaire Eugene Shvidler. It’s believed Shvidler is still the owner of Le Grand Bleu, but due to confidentiality reasons, McGrath can’t release the owner’s name.

— Katie Sears
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