Yachting Art Magazine

Saddam Hussein's yachts

1979, on the Amalfi Coast. A tall, martial-looking man is received with his entourage and with great pomp by a member of the Saudi royal family on board his yacht. If the conversations led, in the first place, to important arms deliveries, they also led to an astonishing decision of President Saddam Hussein: to build a 120-metre yacht...

Al Mansur, Saddam Hussein's second yacht...

Al Mansur, Saddam Hussein's second yacht...

There is no way that the prestige of the new Iraq, led in the shadows for the past ten years by the dashing Saddam Hussein, 46 years old and now president, can suffer a comparison with the petromonarchies of the Gulf...
 

Thus the Helsingor Vaerft shipyard (Denmark) received the order (of 100 million dollars) for a motor yacht capable of competing with the largest and most luxurious floating palaces in the world. According to legend, the boat was paid for in advance and in cash...

The Qadisiyah Saddam, Saddam Hussein's first yacht

The Qadisiyah Saddam, Saddam Hussein's first yacht

The Qadisiyah Saddam

Battle of Qadisiyah

 

The Battle of Qadisiyah victoriously pitted Iraqi Muslims against Persian Iranians in the 7th century. This name, synonymous with victory in the Iraqi imagination, seemed to be the only one worthy of being attached to the dictator's august first name.

With a total length of 82 m for 13 m wide and 3.60 m draught, the Qadisiyah Saddam, had a range of 7000 NM at 18 knots thanks to its two Man engines developing a total power of 8000 HP.

Saddam Hussein's bedroom aboard his first yacht

Built on the theme of a 5***** seaside hotel of the 1970s, a decade in which President Hussein was fond of sideboards and sunglasses, the yacht had 10 double cabins, 4 twins and an owner's suite for a crew of 35 members.

Equipped with a cinema, several swimming pools, a helipad, saunas, hammams and silverware for 100 guests, the Iraqi presidential yacht also had a Mosque (strange for a secular dictator) and, to top it all off, gold taps...

 

The Yacht of the Dark One in spy movies

Saddam was not neglecting his security: The dictator came from the security services and did not underestimate the risks that a particular group or country could pose to him in the midst of the Cold War and the Iran-Iraq conflict.

He had the ship equipped with two retractable turrets with SA9 Gaskin anti-aircraft missiles, 13 cm thick bulletproof glass, a helipad and an operation/resuscitation room.

But also, and here we are in the 1980s, a feature worthy of James Bond at the time: a mini-submarine to which the shipowner could access directly from his suite...

Delivered in 1981, the yacht remained anchored in Basrah (Basra) on the tiny Iraqi seafront, where it remained until 1986, when it was chased away by an air attack from the Iranian Pasdarans seeking to neutralize the port.

From Basrah, Saddam took the boat to the safe waters of Jeddah, capital of the Sunni Saudi friend and sworn enemy of the Shiite Iranians at war with Saddam's Iraq. It will remain there long after my death of its owner, who never used the yacht...

Renamed Ocean Breeze, then Basrah Breeze, she was sent to Nice in 2007 to be sold. The Iraqi government tried to seize it, but the opaque fiscal arrangement, customary in the world of Superyachts, left a doubt about its owner, the Iraqis, the Saudi dynasty or its Hashemite counterpart, from Jordan.

Basrah Breeze, Saddam Hussein's former first yacht...
Basrah Breeze, Saddam Hussein's former first yacht...

Room for rent in Presidential Yacht

Saddam Hussein's former first yacht, converted into a floating hotel...

One year later, the proof of the boat's belonging to the Republic of Iraq is made, making its sale possible. In the absence of a buyer, repatriated to Basra, it will first serve as a research platform for the local university before finishing, in 2018, converted into a floating hotel for Iraqi port pilots in Basra!  Back to the people!

The Al Mansour (Al Mansur), Saddam Hussein's second yacht, a gift from the Saudis

Named after the Iraqi Caliph Al Mansour, meaning "The Victorious", who founded the kingdom of Iraq in an 8th century battle, this boat is a gift to Saddam Hussein from his Saudi friends. They greatly appreciated his war against the regime of the Iranian Shiite mullahs and will express their thanks to him in this way in 1982.

Ordered from the Finnish shipyards Wartsila in 1982 and completed in 1983, it was delivered the following year to the Iraqis via Morocco.

With a length of 120 m, 17.5 m beam and 5.5 m draught, and a power of 28,000 HP, she was at the time one of the largest and most impressive yachts in the world.

Cross cut of Saddam Hussein's Yacht, al Mansur
Cross cut of Saddam Hussein's Yacht, al Mansur

Offering 10 cabins for its guests, the banqueting room and silverware on board could accommodate no less than 200 guests on board served by the 60 crew members.

The saloon was lit by a glass dome more than 10 m above the ground.

Characteristics of a warship

The Saudis were very concerned about their friend's safety, so they had the ship built like a warship, judge for yourselves: a specially suspended motorization to make it difficult to be detected by submarines, armoured decks and planking, as well as the equipment present on Saddam's first yacht (unused and immobilized in Jeddah), anti-aircraft missiles, bullet-proof windows, underwater camera for anti-swimming combat surveillance, helipad, operating room and always a mini submarine accessible directly from the shipowner's suite. ..

It is interesting to note the care taken by the Saudis at that time to maintain their good relations with Saddam Hussein. Indeed, some ten years later, the international coalition planes took off from bases in the Saudi desert to destroy the Iraqi army in Kuwait and then, even later, in Iraq. The friendship of peoples is ephemeral...

The USA demolishes Saddam's toy...

The first Gulf War left Iraqi territory under the control of Saddam Hussein's regime, leaving its port infrastructure and his ship, anchored in Basra, intact.

During the second Gulf War, among the thousands of air missions carried out against Iraq, two American F14 TOMCATs (those from the film Topgun) launched, on 27 March 2003, from the bridge of the USS Constellation for a special mission towards the inner port of Basra...

The American pilots are armed with 500 pound MK82 land bombs that they drop, at the goal, at the first pass over the target, the presidential yacht Al Mansur. The Al Mansur is hit, ignites and capsizes the next day. Irrecoverable, it will be scrapped 3 years later.

Al Mansur, Saddam Hussein's second yacht, after an attack by American F14's.
Al Mansur, Saddam Hussein's second yacht, after an attack by American F14's.

 

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