‘Underwater drone with explosives’ spotted near Baltic Nord Stream pipeline
An abandoned expendable remotely-operated mine clearance underwater vehicle allegedly with explosives onboard has been detected in multinational waters of the Baltic Sea by the Swedish Navy, Svenska Daglabet reports.
The discovery was made during a routine check of the Nord Stream pipeline. Since it was discovered in the Swedish economic zone, north of the island of Gotland, the Nord Stream pipeline operator immediately notified the Swedish military.
The type of ROV (remote operated vehicle) found near Gotland is typically used to disarm big unremovable munitions found on seabed, as the drone is blown up along with the dangerous object.
Although there is every indication that the UUV carries an explosive charge, the Swedish military believe it cannot do any harm.
“We don't consider it to be dangerous to merchant vessels or the pipeline at this point,” Jesper Stolpe, Swedish Armed Forces spokesman, told Radio Sweden. According to Stolpe, the cable used to control the drone and to set off the explosive was cut off, so at the moment the vehicle is relatively harmless.
The national identity of the drone has not been verified so far, as many countries use UUVs of a similar construction, Stolpe said.
The Swedish military precludes the possibility of sabotage against the pipeline, Stolpe said.
An attempt to disarm the UUV or take it away from the pipeline is going to be made on Monday, November 9.
The Nord Stream pipeline connecting Russia and Germany was constructed by energy giant Gazprom in close cooperation with companies from Germany, France and the Netherlands.
In June 2015, Gazprom signed a new contract, providing construction of two additional gas pipelines along the already existing two, the so-called Nord Stream-2 project. The new project is going to be developed together with such companies as E.On, Shell, and OMV.