During my recent trip to Greece, I visited a boatyard in Perama where to my surprise I spotted Christina O. The famous yacht just arrived from Cuba to undergo a major refit.
Christina O is a private motor yacht that once belonged to billionaire Greek shipowner Aristotle Onassis. At 99.06 meters long she is number 31st among the Top 100 largest yachts in the world as of 2013. She was originally a Canadian anti-submarine River-class frigate called HMCS Stormont and was launched in 1943. She served as a convoy escort during the Battle of the Atlantic and was present at the Normandy landings.
After the end of the Second World War, she was one of many surplus naval vessels; Onassis purchased her at scrap value of US$34,000. He then spent US$4 million to convert her into a luxurious superyacht named after his daughter Christina. Upon Onassis' death, she donated the yacht to the Greek government as a presidential yacht, renamed Argo.
Allowed to decay, the vessel was purchased in 1998 by fellow Greek shipping magnate John Paul Papanicolaou, an Onassis family friend who secured it in a government-sponsored auction. He spent $50 million to retrofit her, restoring her previous name in honor of his then departed friend, Christina. Since Papanicolaou's death in 2010, Christina O can be rented for private charters and cruises.