Pictures reveal the inside of Saddam Hussein's gold-encrusted superyacht
Up until his deposition in April 2003, Saddam Hussein served as the president of Iraq. During most of that time, he was viewed as a man who cared greatly about his personal image, and indeed much of the country was littered with posters, portraits, and statues of the leader.
After his removal from office and eventual death in 2006, however, most of these remnants of the dictator were destroyed. Statues were pulled down, murals on walls of buildings were painted over, and thousands of pieces of propaganda bearing his image were disposed of.
However, some of his possessions did survive - including a 270-foot superyacht that was originally built for him back in 1981.
According to a report from Reuters, the condition of the so-called "Basrah Breeze" is pristine. "The king size bed in Saddam Hussein’s superyacht is made, the silk curtains around it have been drawn back and, in the gold-rimmed bathroom next door, a barber’s chair awaits its occupant."
Despite its opulence, though, the Iraqi government has struggled to find a use for the enormous ship since its owner was executed 12 years ago. It was the subject of a court battle for a short while, but has been official government property since 2010.
During that time, nobody wanted to shell out $30 million for the ship (perhaps unsurprisingly, given the reputation it must come with), and has instead been used for the past two years for university researchers who are studying marine biology.
And now Reuters has managed to get some snaps of the interior:
The total number of rooms aboard the ship was not disclosed, but it was noted that the yacht contained a presidential suite that comprised of Hussein's private quarters, dining rooms, and bedrooms, plus a further smaller 17 guest rooms, as well as 18 separate cabins for crew.
"The presidential yacht is in a very good condition. Its two engines and generators are functioning," said Abdul-Zahra Abdul-Mahdi Saleh, the current captain of the Basrah Breeze. "It only needs periodic maintenance."
Authorities have finally found a more permanent and practical use for the yacht, and have decided to use it as a facility to accommodate sea pilots in the area - many of whom live far away from Basra, where the ship is docked.
"The port needs the boat to be a station where sea pilots can rest," said Basra port spokesman Anmar al-Safi.
Despite owning the vessel for more than 20 years, however, Hussein never actually stepped on board. Shortly before he was toppled from power, though, he did take careful action to protect the yacht, and ordered it to be moved from Umm Qasr, Iraq’s biggest port outside Basra, in order to avoid being hit by US airstrikes.
He was right to do so, too, as the Basra Breeze's sister ship, "al-Mansur", was destroyed shortly after Hussein's reign was brought to an end.