Danish Defence Command Confirms Russian Minisub Equipped SS-750 at Site of Nord Stream Blasts 4 Days Prior
With the Russian minisub equipped SS-750 confirmed near the Nord Stream sabotage sites on September 22nd 2022 further evidence points to Russia's involvement.
If you enjoy my content, please consider supporting my work here and on Twitter with a premium Substack subscription. I keep all my OSINT related content freely available so that everyone can benefit from the information shared.
Following my previous investigation with t-online, where we attempted to track six named Russian Navy vessels, which were reportedly in the vicinity of the Nord Stream explosion sites days prior to the blasts, we have gotten further confirmation of our findings.
The previous investigation was able track the two Project 02980 Rescue Tugs SB-123 and Aleksandr Frolov out of the Russian EEZ and towards the Danish EEZ and Nord Stream sabotage sites before they disabled AIS. Through the movement of tugs in the port of Baltiysk at the same time as the SB-123 and Aleksandr Frolov departed, it was also assumed that the Project 141S Rescue ship SS-750 accompanied them. It was at the time, however not possible to confirm this or whether these ships did in fact approach the Nord Stream sabotage site using the available open sources.
On the April 18th however journalist Bo Elkjær, working for the Danish newspaper Dagbladet Information, was able to confirm that the Royal Danish Navy Diana-class Patrol Vessel P524 Nymfen took 112 photographs of Russian vessels on September 22nd 2022 while in the vicinity of the blast sites. Through a freedom of information request, the Danish Defence Command confirmed that the vessel had taken the images on that date, but were unable to release the images as they had “intelligence value”.
In a follow up freedom of information request, an similar inquiry was made about potential images of U.S. Naval vessels near the site on the same date. Here the Danish Defence Command replied that they had no such images.
These initial freedom of information requests only confirmed that P524 Nymfen took photos of Russian vessels near the site while as part of the track pictured below, but did not help identify which vessels it could be.
We now have the Danish Defence Command’s reply to another freedom of information request from Bo Elkjær, this time asking specifically about images or video taken of the SS-750. To this request the Danish Defence Command has replied that they took 26 photos of the SS-750 from the P524 Nymfen on September 22nd 2022. Again though, they were unable to release the images as they had “intelligence value”.
This confirms that the SS-750, which is equipped with an AS-26 Project 1855 Priz Deep-Diving Rescue Vehicle, was in the vicinity of the sabotage site just 4 days prior to the explosions. I suspect that future freedom of information requests specifying the SB-123 and Aleksandr Frolov will also come back with a number of images of each of these vessels. If so, that confirms that the SS-750 traveled with the rescue tugs from the port of Baltiysk on the night of September 21st 2022.
According to press releases from the Russian Ministry of Defence, the SS-750 had two public tasks in September and October 2022. A press release from September 6th 2022 states that the SS-750 was used to support a test dive to 100m during trials of two diesel-electric submarines. These submarines were the Project 636.3 Improved Kilo-class submarine Ufa (B-588) and the Project 677 Lada-class Kronshtadt (B-586).
On October 5th 2022 another press release mentioning the SS-750 was published. This time it mentions the SS-750 supporting the Ufa (B-588) on a 190m test dive.
Looking at nautical charts of the Baltic Sea, it is easy to sea which areas would be used for these tests, as only a few areas have the required depth. The initial 100m tests could be done off the coast of Kaliningrad or further north in the deeper part of the Baltic Sea between Latvia/Estonia and Gotland. The second 190m test dive limits it to the area between Latvia and Gotland. None of these areas are in the vicinity or even direction of Bornholm, which means that these could not be the reasoning for the SS-750’s location near the site of the sabotage.
It does however raise the possibility that the Russian vessels in the area could have been accompanied by a Russian submarine during the time in the vicinity of the sabotage site. Back on September 29th 2022, just after the blasts, CNN stated the following in an article, “Russian submarines were also observed not far from those areas last week, one of the intelligence officials said.”
On September 22nd 2022, the best information available suggests that Russia had 3 operational submarines in the Baltic Sea. These were the the Project 636.3 Improved Kilo-class submarine Ufa (B-588), the Project 677 Lada-class Kronshtadt (B-586) and the Project 877 Kilo-class submarine Dmitrov (B-806). Satellite imagery of the Russian naval base at Kronstadt, St. Petersburg on September 21st and 22nd 2022 show one Kilo-class and one Lada-class submarine at the dock. The second Kilo-class is missing and returns some time between September 22nd and October 13th. I suspect that the missing Kilo-class submarine is the Ufa (B-588).
The Ufa (B-588) would officially be commissioned into the Russian Navy during a ceremony on November 17th 2022, after completion of its sea trials.