Denmark confirms: Russian vessel seen near North Stream's detonation point

A Danish patrol boat took pictures of a SS-750 special craft with a mini-submarine on board in the area where the North Stream pipes were sabotaged days before the explosions.

A Danish press report quotes the Norwegian Defense Command as saying in response to journalists’ enquiries that a Danish patrol boat provided 26 photos of a special Russian vessel for underwater operations in the area where North Stream pipes were detonated. The pictures were taken on 22 September 2022, four days before the explosions. 

The SS-750, which carries a mini-submarine of the AS-26 Priz type on board, is used by the Russian naval forces, the Information outlet claimed.

Joakim von Braun, a Swedish researcher, and Jacob Kaarsbo, a senior analyst at the think tank Europe and previously worked for 15 years in the Defense Intelligence Service, believe that the presence of a Russian military vessel near the detonation point make Moscow the primary suspect of what looks to be a deliberate sabotage operation.

Small Russian fleet

T-Online, a German media outlet, said earlier that the Russian Navy had sent at least six vessels to the detonation area prior to the explosions and Aleksandr Frolov, SB-123, and SS-750 were among them. 

The Information also referred to the open source intelligence analyst Oliver Alexander who claimed that the six Russian vessels departed to the area from the port of Kaliningrad at 00:22 on 21 September 2022. 

The two sources showed satellite photos and AIS data from the Russian tugboat Alexander Frolov.

The 26 images of SS-750 were taken on 22 September 2022by the Danish patrol vessel P524 Nymfen, which left Rødbyhavn on 21 September in the evening.

After the explosions, the Danish, Swedish and German defense forces deployed ships to the area, which was also patrolled by surveillance aircraft from Sweden and Poland. In addition, American ships were also nearby while an American surveillance helicopter was in the air over the Baltic Sea.

A map depicting the route of the Danish patrol boat in the Baltic Sea. Image: Information

P524 Nymfen arrived in the area east of Bornholm shortly after six o'clock in the morning, sailed back and forth south and east of the detonation points and at one point slowed down to lie still in the area. The Russian vessel was photographed during that period. The Danish boat made the appropriate notes of the event in the board journal.

While suspicions that the Russians were involved in the blasts emerged immediately after the deterioration of the North Stream pipes, no proof existed until now and the motive was not clear.

Neither is it clear why the photos have not been published so far and why the Norwegian Defense Command refuses to provide access to the photos, justifying its decision with [reasoning] "of intelligence nature." Another question is why the information about the pictures have surfaced only now and whether it's a leakage on purpose.

The North Stream explosions are currently being investigated by Danish, Swedish and German authorities, and have stirred conspiracy theories among amateur investigators. There’s been no official conclusion pertaining to the sabotage.