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Paul Allen's Octopus Visits RMI

Of Interest

March 2008
by Karen Earnshaw

American's third richest man, Paul Allen, is crossing his fingers that officials at the Department of Defense in Washington, DC, will allow him to fly into Kwajalein Atoll on his private jet.

Allen, who according to Forbes magazine is worth $20 billion, is hoping to arrive in Kwajalein next week, after which he will be ferried to his 416-foot boat Octopus in Bikini by helicopter.

According to the US Embassy's Political and Economic Officer Adam Mitchell, Kwajalein "is a very secure military base," suggesting that permission may be denied.

It's believed that Allen wants to fly into Kwajalein, rather than Majuro, because the Octopus' helicopter can make it from Kwajalein to Bikini in one hop, but the distance from Majuro is too great.

The luxury ship Octopus arrived in Majuro lagoon at 6pm on Tuesday evening, anchoring off Uliga.  Shortly after anchoring, a tender came to the RRE Shoreline to pick up US Ambassador Clyde Bishop, Mitchell, and two other embassy staff for a tour of the Octopus.

"The Octopus is very big and very, very posh," Mitchell told the Journal. "It's really a fantastic bit of ship-building."  Mitchell said the interior of the boat, which cost $20 million to build, is "full of modern electronics, as befitting someone with a software background. For example there's big screen TVs that slide out of the walls.

"The inside has a classic look, with lots of light wood paneling and muted colors."  On the walls, Mitchell said he saw a couple of Andy Warhol paintings and a Max Ernst original.

The embassy staff were invited on board by the Octopus' Captain Glenn Dalby, who reportedly makes a habit of inviting diplomatic VIPs on board when in a new port.

Also boarding the Octopus for its voyage to Bikini Atoll were a team of about a dozen Bikini Atoll Divers employees, including head diver Jim Akroyd and his wife Jen, and dive liaison Lani Kramer.

The dive team had been unable to get to Bikini because of Air Marshall Islands' lack of working planes. It's believed that the Octopus, which left Majuro at about 10pm on Tuesday, will take two days to reach the northern atoll and will stay in Bikini for about eight or nine days.

Akroyd told the Journal that the guests and 60-member crew of the Octopus will not be diving at Bikini. Instead, the passengers intend to witness the delights of Sponge Bob's home -- Bikini bottom -- by hopping in the ship's 10-person submarine. They may also deploy another Octopus 'toy', a remote controlled vehicle that crawls along the ocean floor.




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