alfa nero yacht

5 images

Crew of 81m Oceanco superyacht Alfa Nero awarded unpaid wages

15 January 2024 • Written by Holly Margerrison

The crew of the abandoned 81.3-metre Oceanco motor yacht Alfa Nero will receive more than a year of unpaid wages following a ruling by a high court judge. The case against the owner was brought before the High Court of Antigua and Barbuda by Nautilus International and Captain Christopher Malcolm Lewis in September 2023. 

Declared seized on 11 April 2023, the ruling concerns the wages owed to crew members originally employed on the superyacht before its abandonment and those who remained on board or were hired as part of a skeleton crew from March 2022 to April 2023.

Read More/Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt backs out of $67M Alfa Nero purchase

The report by the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court explains: "After a much-publicised arrival and subsequent abandonment by the owner of the yacht under international sanctions, the superyacht was left in the waters off Antigua and Barbuda. Its crew had been terminated in large part and the yacht was manned by a skeleton crew until the same was officially acquired by the Antigua and Barbuda Port Authority."

Flying Dutchman Overseas Ltd., the registered owner of the vessel, had not given instruction on the maintenance of the superyacht or its staff when she was seized, leading to controversy around whether Captain Lewis was acting within his jurisdiction to rehire previously dismissed crew. The judge ruled that it "was in fact a reasonable course of action".

Nautilus International, a trade union and professional organisation registered in the United Kingdom, and Captain Lewis (on behalf of crew members) filed a claim on 17 March 2023 seeking payment of the sum of €2,242,991.62, including interest at the rate of four per cent. Their argument was grounded in Section 49(1) of the 2006 Merchant Shipping Act, which asserts priority for maritime liens, including wages, over other debts.

Non-unionised crew members filed a separate claim seeking payment of €439,494.40. The combined payment sought totalled around €2.7 million.

Another point of contention arose regarding the fact that several crew members were promoted between March 2022 to April 2023 and were therefore claiming for higher rate of pay from their original contracts. The report explains: "None of these people who were promoted held their positions substantially. In other words, they all were promoted for a period of time to facilitate a senior officer taking leave".

The judge ruled that they were "temporary appointments" and that they were instead to be "paid according to the rate for which they were paid at the time of termination by Burgess".

Further claims for travel expenses, gratuity, crew training and attorneys fees, were also rejected.

The yacht was one of the latest superyachts to be sold at auction on 16 June 2023 for $67,000,677, having been declared abandoned by the government of Antigua and Barbuda. Ever since, she has been wrapped up in litigation and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt was reported to have backed out of the deal amid "legal wrangling". The fate of Alfa Nero is now unknown.

Read More/The biggest yachts ever sold at auction

Sponsored listings