At the end of September, large amounts of gas escaped from four leaks in the Nord Stream pipeline. Earlier, two suspicious ships passed through the area.
Shortly before the explosion at the Baltic Sea pipelines Nord Stream 1 and 2, two so-called “dark ships” apparently passed through the area. This is reported by the US computer magazine “Wired” and refers to the analyzes of the company “SpaceCon”. Data experts therefore identified two large vessels in satellite images with directional transmitters that appeared close to the gas leak prior to the explosion.
According to the analysis there are two ships, each about 95 to 130 meters long, which passed the next leaks several miles apart. “Their signal was off, which meant they had no information about their movements, and they were trying to hide their location information and general information from the world,” explained Spacecon CEO Jerry Zavornicki.
So-called “dark ships” are ships that have turned off their tracking systems and thus disappear from radar screens. According to international law, large ships are obliged to transmit their position information via transponder in an automated process. This will make navigation easier for other ships and prevent potential collisions.
An investigation into the gas leak is underway
The analysis that has just been released is likely to further fuel speculation about the cause of the gas leak. To track the ships, SpaceKnow says it examined 90 days of archived satellite imagery surrounding the explosion. With the help of machine learning, 25 objects were eventually discovered that crossed the ocean during this time. The direction transmitters of both ships were off.
Data analysts said they shared the unusual findings with NATO officials. According to the report, it is relatively rare for ships to “sink” with their transponders turned off. However, positioning systems can be disrupted in certain situations – for example related to certain weather conditions.
Gas leaks in two Baltic Sea pipelines are under investigation. According to authorities, a total of four underwater leaks were found in the pipes in late September, from which large quantities of gas had been escaping for several days. The EU and NATO assume an act of sabotage. The Kremlin rejected speculation of Russian involvement.