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Superyacht rear-ends and sinks gas tanker in Bahamas

National Post logo National Post 12/31/2021 Shari Kulha
The Bahamian Ministry of Transport is investigating how and why the Utopia IV rammed the Tropic Breeze hard enough to sink it. © Provided by National Post The Bahamian Ministry of Transport is investigating how and why the Utopia IV rammed the Tropic Breeze hard enough to sink it.

The crew of the M/T Tropic Breeze gas tanker may not have had Santa drop in on Christmas Eve, but they did get a big surprise from an unexpected visitor.

Maritime Management LLC, which manages the tanker, said the 160-foot ship was travelling en route to Great Stirrup Cay near the northern end of the Bahamian island chain at 10 p.m. when it was rear-ended by the 207-foot superyacht Utopia IV.

The $51-million, 207-foot yacht, owned by multimillionaire e-marketer J.R. Ridinger, hit the stern of the Tropic Breeze off the coast of New Providence Island. It is unclear as yet what speed the yacht was sailing at, what damage she suffered or even whether it was out on a charter while the Ridingers were elsewhere.

In these Instagram photos, the Ridingers were on board her in the Miami area.

Maritime Management told Caribbean National Weekly that “the catastrophic force of the collision pierced the stern of the tanker causing the tanker to sink to the ocean floor at an estimated depth of 2,000 feet.”

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Crew members were rescued by another passing superyacht, the Amara, and safely returned to a Ridinger company facility on shore.

The Utopia IV features four light Rolls Royce engines and four hydro jets that let it cruise at 26 knots but offer a top speed of 33 knots. She fits a full crew complement of 13, and can sleep 12 guests surrounded by such luxury brand items as Hermes and Armani. A jacuzzi in the owner’s suite, a glass-bottom pool and a helipad are just some of its extraordinary features.

It is unclear if Ridinger, chief executive of Market America and, was aboard.

When they set out to move to Greenwich, Conn. and put their Manhattan condo on the market in July 2020 — which offered boat space at nearby Chelsea Piers — Ridinger’s wife, Loren, told the New York Post that “we’ve always been avid yachters so having our yacht across the street was super convenient.”

The vast apartment had a 44-foot living room with striking sunset views. When they listed the $19.9 million unit, she told the publication that “the space is so cozy, yet so expansive and private that you can have guests without even knowing they are there.” (We’re sure she didn’t meant it quite like that .)

Among several images, his Instagram post from earlier shows a photo of the couple on the UIV, as the yacht is sometimes referred to:

“The Port Department has begun a formal investigation into the incident, and the Department of Environmental Health is also conducting a review of the environmental impact,” the Bahamian Ministry of Transport and Housing said.

As to potential environmental damage, Maritime Management said all “non-persistent materials (LPG, marine gas and automotive gas) … are lighter than water and will evaporate if exposed to surface air.”

Maritime Management said that “due to the depth of the ocean at the location of the sinking, it has been determined that the tanker cannot be safely salvaged.”


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