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Saddam Hussein's lavish yacht is now a scientific research boat

It's got four decks, a helicopter pad, marble bathrooms, and a dozen guest bedrooms. In other words, a little more luxury than your typical research boat. National Geographic reports this week on the quest to turn a yacht built for former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein into a vessel of science.

The 270-foot yacht, recently renamed Basrah Breeze, has had a weird life. As Nat Geo says:

Originally called Qadissiyat Saddam (the name is a reference to a 7th century battle in which Arabs triumphed over Persia), the boat was built in Denmark at a time when Iraq—then an ally of the U.S.—was locked in a bloody fight with Iran. The boat couldn't be safely delivered, and it ended up moored in Oman for years as the war dragged on.

During the '80s, Saddam Hussein gave the vessel to King Fahd bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, who later gave it to King Hussein of Jordan. His son sent the ship to the south of France. After the U.S. invasion and Saddam's demise, Iraq wanted its boat back, and a court granted its wish in 2008. But Iraq couldn't manage to sell the gilded albatross, and so it had to bring it home and find a use for it.

Click here for the full report by Popular Mechanics.