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November December 2019 Marina World

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NEWS FOCUS To be or not to be? Russia’s biggest marina Vladislav Vorotnikov reports A new state-of-the-art marina earmarked for construction in Balaklava Bay in Sevastopol will be the biggest and most expensive in the country built to date, according to a draft project published by the Russian Government on its website in early September. With an estimated investment cost of Rub7.2 billon (US0 million), the new marina will cover 13,270m² (15,871yd²) and have 600 berths for yachts up to 75m (246ft), the government said. As of today, there are very few marinas able to accept yachts of this size in the country. The competitive bidding procedure to conduct survey and design works for the project was won by Russian company Stroygazmontazh, a construction giant that previously built the Crimean Bridge - which spans the peninsula with mainland Russia - for Rub228 billion (US.5 billion). Construction of the Balaklava marina was originally mooted by Russian president, Vladimir Putin, in 2016. Speaking at a press conference at the time, he stressed that such important infrastructure would contribute to the development of sea sports and yachting tourism in the peninsula. Speaking later, however, Mr Putin admitted that construction was pending because a broad range of auxiliary infrastructure also needed to be built. The new marina would be part of the complex Balaklava Bay development programme, worth Rub20 billion (US0 million), according to Russia’s Infrastructure Projects Agency. The government agency has commissioned Russian designers from Artemy Lebedev Studio to prepare a concept for the project. Some local news outlets have reported that preparations for the project have already started. The entire mooring area should be cleared of fishermen’s infrastructure during 2019 and several yacht clubs in the area are due to be eliminated, according to local news outlet Krymr. Questionable feasibility An important obstacle to the project, however, is that it is very unlikely to contribute to the development of nautical tourism in Crimea, despite the beliefs of government officials. As of today, visiting Crimea and staying in any of its marinas is considered by the Ukraine’s prosecution office to be a criminal offence. Since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, the Ukraine Government considers the peninsula to be ‘a temporary occupied territory’, and it is putting a lot of effort into arresting all international ships calling at its ports. The Russian Transport University earlier estimated that the number of non-Russian ships in Crimea is already close to zero, the only exception being some commercial Turkish vessels. In addition, tensions have been growing on the sea border in the past year. Ukraine customs officers have detained Russian fishermen and the Russian State Security Service has detained some Ukraine patrol boats; in both cases, allegedly, for illegally crossing the border. Both countries continue to use aggressive rhetoric and talk of using naval vessels to better control shipping in the region. The big question appears to be whether this project could prove to be anything other than a loud statement, commented a source from the local yachting industry who wished not to be named. “The truth is that Ukraine yachtsmen are not visiting Crimea any longer, and only an insane boat owner from Europe would come here under the current circumstances. So, for most of the year occupancy at all existing marinas in Sevastopol and Simferopol is below 50%. It is hard to say that they rake in money and it is very unlikely that this will get better in the years to come,” he added. www.marinaworld.com - November/December 2019 17

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