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Denmark Locates “Object” Near Nord Stream as Norway Steps Up Patrols

Object near Nord Stream pipeline
Unidentified object seen next to the Nord Stream pipeline (Danish Defence)

Published Mar 24, 2023 5:08 PM by The Maritime Executive

Danish Defense and the Danish Energy Agency are reporting that they have located an unidentified object alongside an undamaged section of the Nord Stream pipeline that they want to examine. This comes as the investigations continue while elsewhere in Scandinavia they continue to report an increased level of Russian activity around sensitive infrastructure elements. Russia, on Friday, however, indicated that it welcomed the Danish efforts repeating its claims that additional unexploded devices might be near the pipelines.

“The object is cylindrical and is about 40 cm (approximately 16 inches) tall and 10 cm (4 inches) in diameter,” the Danish Energy Agency said in a statement released on March 23. “With a view to further clarifying the nature of the object, Danish authorities have decided to salvage the object with assistance from the Danish Defence.”

This latest development comes as Denmark continues to work on the ongoing investigation as two of the damaged sections of the gas pipeline are within Danish territory. They said that they do not believe there is any immediate danger from the object. Relevant Danish authorities have reportedly examined the images of the object observed by the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in the Baltic. They are speculating that it might be a maritime smoke buoy, normally used as a warning device to send distress signals. 

The owners and operators of the pipeline, Nord Stream 2 AG, indicated that they would cooperate with the Danish agencies in their efforts to lift the device from the seafloor.  

Russian news agency Tass, also reported on the development saying that Russia also welcomed the efforts. The reiterated claims made by President Vladimir Putin. Last week during an interview he said that Gazprom had received permission to survey the sections of the pipeline and believed that its ship found evidence that could mean there’s another explosive device on a Nord Stream pipeline approximately 18 miles from the site of the damage. Tass quotes Putin as saying “it appears that several explosive devices were planted," and that "Some of them went off, and some didn’t.”

 

 

Denmark’s announcement came as the U.S.’s NBC News outlet was reporting that Norway is increasing the number of naval patrols near vital undersea assets including the pipelines and data and telecommunication lines. NBC embedded reports with the Norwegian Navy and released video showing Russian submarines and images of airplanes which the Norwegian say have increased their presence in the region and are acting “more unpredictably.” 

Earlier this year, both the Netherlands and Belgium accused Russian vessels of spying on their offshore assets including their wind farms. Both countries said they had detected what they called “spy ships” near their assets but that the vessels had moved away when detected. 

The UK Prime Minister who has long advocated for increased surveillance of critical undersea assets late last year accelerated a project to increase his country’s efforts. The UK recently acquired two commercial offshore vessels that are being repurposed for the Royal Navy to monitor undersea pipelines and cables and to provide a capability to handle potential threats such as mines.