Saddam Hussein’s Superyacht Winds Up As Sailors’ Hotel

But the Iraqi dictator never boarded the 82-metre (270-foot) “Basrah Breeze” built for him in 1981 – and its amenities will now be enjoyed by the pilots who guide shipping in and out of the port of Basra, the main southern city.
In common with other treasures left by Saddam, toppled in 2003 during the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and hanged three years later for crimes against humanity, the governments that succeeded him have been struggling to find a use for the ship.
Since Iraq got it back in 2010 following a court battle and a three-decade odyssey abroad, it has been mostly moored in Basra.
Equipped with a presidential suite comprising Saddam’s private quarters, dining rooms and bedrooms, as well as 17 smaller guest rooms, 18 cabins for crew and a clinic, the opulently equipped and decorated vessel was put on the market for $30 million.
The government failed to find a buyer, and for the past two years the “Basrah Breeze” has served Basra University, hosting researchers on trips to study marine life.
“The presidential yacht is in a very good condition. Its two engines and generators are functioning,” said Abdul-Zahra Abdul-Mahdi Saleh, its captain. “It only needs periodic maintenance.”
But authorities have now decided to moor it permanently as a hotel and recreation facility for the southern port’s pilots, many of whom live in distant cities.
“The port needs the boat to be a station where sea pilots can rest,” said Basra port spokesman Anmar al-Safi.
Built by a Danish shipyard while Iraq was at war with Iran, the yacht was passed on to Saudi Arabia – then a Saddam ally – to protect it from air strikes on Basra, officials giving Reuters an exclusive tour said.