Saddam\’s luxury yacht heads home to Iraq

A luxury yacht kitted out for Saddam Hussein with swimming pools, a mosque and a missile launcher will return to Iraq because the global economic crisis has thwarted attempts to sell it.


The 82-metre Ocean Breeze, which also sported a mini-submarine among its facilities, will be towed home from a Greek port, Iraq\’s government confirmed, saving it the cost of expensive berthing and maintenance fees.

The yacht was built for Saddam 28 years ago, but the Iran-Iraq war – which saw it moved from the southern port of Basra to Saudi Arabia – was among the factors that meant the dictator never savoured its ostentatious facilities.

The vessel became the subject of a legal wrangle when it appeared in the French Riviera city of Nice in autumn 2007, where a British boat dealer tried to sell it for 23.5 million euros ($A46.76 million).

The Iraqi government, which has a right to recover the late dictator\’s property, managed in January 2008 to have a French commercial court block the sale until its ownership was firmly established.

Cayman island-based Sudeley Limited, part-owned by King Abdullah of Jordan, claimed to own the floating palace, but later renounced its claim, paving the way for its return to Iraq.

“The Iraqi government has authorised the transportation ministry to bring the presidential yacht to Basra province\’s port,” an official government statement said, confirming the move from the Greek port of Piraeus.

Iraq will also pay costs to a Greek company as part of an agreement to maintain the yacht since July 2008, the statement added.

“The Iraqi government decision to bring the yacht home will spare Baghdad the possibility of facing other claims and saves it docking and crew costs, since the Iraqi government will not be able to sell the yacht in the current circumstances with the world dealing with the financial crisis,” the government statement said.

The vessel, which was built in Denmark in 1981, started life as the Basra Breeze. It was moved to Saudi Arabia for fear that the Iran-Iraq conflict would see it damaged.