Ecuador & Panama. Megayacht Constellation seized after illegal submarine exploration in Galapagos
Constellation. Courtesy of
Photo: Constellation. Courtesy of
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Sunday, 09 July 2006
Marian Matin:

The 88.5 metre megayacht Constellation has been detained in Panama, following an incident in which a vessel carrying a mini-submarine was impounded and its crew jailed, for illegal underwater exploration in the Galapagos Islands. The yacht is now anchored at Cristobal, on the Carribean side of the Panama Canal.

A party of Russians had chartered the German built superyacht for a cruise that would include a visit to the world's most highly protected environmental reserve. They also chartered the Panamanian flagged support vessel Cebaco Bay, operated by an American-Panamanian owned company, and a mini-submarine from UK based Silvercrest Submarines.

Last Friday, the Cebaco Bay was stopped by the Ecuadorian navy, 50 nautical miles off the island San Cristóbal, in the Galápagos archipelago. On board were six Panamanians, an Englishman and an Ecuadorian. When the Cebaco Bay was boarded, the crew said that the permissions to dive were organised by the Constellation, but this was denied by the yacht, which immediately left the scene. The Constellation was, subsequently, arrested by the Panamanian authorities, as it prepared to enter the Panama Canal.

Meanwhile, in Ecuador, having admitted to using the submarine, in contravention of laws governing the use of submersibles in the UNESCO protected region, the captain of the Cebaco Bay was sentenced to 90 days in prison and the rest of the crew to 30 days. Panama is now demanding their liberation, saying that any penalty for the infringement lies with the Constellation, for organising the illegal activity.
Last Updated ( Sunday, 09 July 2006 )
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