Christina O cruising in the South of France in 2018.
|Builder:||Canadian Vickers Ltd., Montreal|
|Laid down:||23 December 1942|
|Launched:||14 July 1943|
|Length:||325 ft (99.06 m)|
|Beam:||36 ft (10.97 m)|
|Draft:||14 ft (4.27 m)|
|Speed:||19 knots (35 km/h; 22 mph)|
Christina O is a private motor yacht that once belonged to billionaire Greek shipowner, Aristotle Onassis. At 99.13 metres long, it is the 45th largest yacht in the world as of 2018. Originally, the boat served as a Canadian anti-submarine River-class frigate called HMCS Stormont, launched in 1943. HMCS Stormont served as a convoy escort during the Battle of the Atlantic and was present at the Normandy landings.
Onassis purchased the Stormont after the end of World War II, as it was one of the many surplus naval vessels. Purchasing the ship at scrap value of US$34,000, Onassis then spent an additional US$4 million to convert the vessel 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 the ship, and restored the name of the vessel in memory of his departed friend, Christina.
Today, Christina O features the coupling of unique style with modern comfort after a complete refit in 2015, and various improvements in 2017.
HMCS Stormont was purchased as war surplus from the Canadian government for $34,000 in 1947 and converted to a yacht in Germany. The conversion made full use of the navy ship's size and powerful naval engineering systems to create large, ornate interiors and elaborate luxuries- like a mosaic swimming pool that drained and rose to deck level to create a dance floor. Christina O set a new standard for lavish personal yachts, especially as she was rebuilt amidst the austerity of post-war Europe.
The yacht was designed by Cäsar Pinnau, and the children's dining room was designed and painted by the illustrator Ludwig Bemelmans. After her marriage to Onassis two decades later, Jacqueline Onassis selected the pastel color scheme and decor in all of the cabins.
Papanicolaou hired Naval architect Costas Carabelas to spearhead the vessel's 1998 refit, who engaged interior architect Apostolos Molindris, the firm Decon to manage construction and the Croatian shipyard Viktor Lenac to carry it out.
Apart from Onassis' mistress Maria Callas and his wife Jackie, he entertained celebrities such as Winston Churchill, Richard Burton, Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor, Rudolf Nureyev, Greta Garbo, Frank Sinatra and John F. Kennedy.
When Aristotle Onassis died in 1975, he left the Christina O yacht to her namesake, who gave the vessel to the Greek government for use as a presidential yacht in 1978. Rechristened the Argo, she was allowed to decay and was eventually put up for sale at US$16 million in the early 1990s. She went unsold. In 1996, an attempted sale to American Alexander Blastos fell through when his deposit check bounced; he was later convicted of wire fraud as a result. In 1998 she was purchased by Greek shipowner John Paul Papanicolaou, an Onassis family friend who had sailed on her as a child. He reverted her name back to Christina O, in tribute to the late Christina Onassis, who had died in 1988, and undertook a major refurbishment between January 1999 and April 2001 that cost over $50 million.
Christina O has a master suite, eighteen passenger staterooms, and numerous indoor and outdoor living areas, all connected by a spiral staircase. Compared to a typical 21st-century superyacht, her staterooms are small and Christina O lacks the indoor boat storage that is now standard; however, the number of living areas is large, and the amount of outdoor deck space is very generous. The aft main deck has an outdoor pool with a minotaur-themed mosaic floor that rises at the push of a button to become a dance floor, and there is a helipad on the promenade deck. The bar stools in Ari's Bar retain the original upholstery crafted from a very soft, fine leather made from the foreskins of whales.