Saddam Hussein’s two yachts, abandoned for 20 years after his fall, are relics of the Iraqi dictator’s power. While “Basra Breeze” survived the chaos of Saddam’s fall and death, her sister ship “Al-Mansour” suffered a different fate. This ship was sunk in the Arvand River that passes through Basra after it was hit by American planes and was looted following the chaos after the fall of Saddam Hussein.
Al-Mansour is now lying on its side, toppled after the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. But “Basra Breeze”, which is anchored at the nearby pier, is a reminder of the war-torn country’s past.
This super yacht was built by a Danish shipyard for Saddam in 1981, a year after the start of the Iran-Iraq war.
Esman Olsson, CEO of Helsingor Vaerft, claimed in his memoirs that Saddam’s agents wanted a five percent discount, ten big buses and four Mercedes Benz cars as a sign of goodwill.
Although the price of this ship has never been revealed, it can be estimated that Nasim Basra cost millions of dollars to build.
This ship, with rocket launchers and a secret passage leading to a small submarine, was Saddam’s water shelter.
This boat also has a landing place for a helicopter and a special meeting hall or war management room.
Inside this yacht is a presidential suite, consisting of Saddam’s private rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms, as well as 17 smaller guest rooms, 18 crew cabins and an infirmary.
Saddam Hussein’s bedroom has a huge bed with stunning decorations and silk curtains can be seen throughout the room.
The woodwork on the walls is decorated with carvings, brightly colored carpets are thrown in the rooms and gold decorations abound on this luxury yacht.
The ship even has a dressing room with a dedicated make-up chair for Saddam Hussein’s famous moustache.
But Saddam never traveled with this ship after painstakingly designing his floating palace, and it was only used to support this country in the midst of the Iraq-Iran war. Nasim Basra was sent to Saudi Arabia, which was an ally of Saddam at the time, to protect it from airstrikes on Basra. Saudi Arabia, which clashed with Saddam after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, handed over the ship to Jordan. Its subsequent movements were unclear until Iraq traced it to the French resort of Nice and a court seized it and sent it home.
This ship, like other treasures left by Saddam, which was shot down in 2003 during the American attack on Iraq, had engaged the minds of the governments after him for its practical use. But no government could find a buyer for it.
Instead, it became useful for Basra University students, and the yacht has hosted researchers on trips to study marine life.
Despite the passage of time, this boat is in good condition. Its two engines and generator are working. It only needs periodic maintenance.
Iraqi authorities have decided to dock Saddam Hussein’s yacht permanently as a hotel and recreation center for sailors from the city’s southern port, many of whom live in other cities.
Anmar Al-Safi, the spokesman of Basra Port, said: “This port needs a boat to be a residence where the navy can rest.
But the Basra Museum is still competing to anchor this yacht next to one of Saddam Hussein’s former palaces overlooking Arvand River. They want to convince the port to turn the four-story ship into an exhibition documenting the wealth of one of the world’s most notorious dictators.
“Future generations can see how a dictator lived,” said Javad Abdulkazem, deputy director of the museum.