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Germany Confirms That Explosive Residues Were Found on Nord Stream Yacht

Nord leak
A vast natural gas leak from one of the ruptured Nord Stream lines in the Baltic, Sept. 27, 2022 (Swedish Coast Guard)

Published Jul 12, 2023 8:47 PM by The Maritime Executive

The governments of Germany, Denmark and Sweden have issued a formal update on their separate Nord Stream blast investigations, and the German line of inquiry continues to focus on a suspicious sailing yacht that may have been used to transport saboteurs to the scene.

In September 2022, subsea blasts ruptured three out of the four parallel gas lines installed in the Nord Stream 1 and 2 projects. These lines were installed to transport gas from Russian producer Gazprom to utilities in northern Germany. Investigators in Denmark and Sweden have confirmed that the damage to the Nord Stream complex was indeed an act of sabotage, but the culprit remains unknown to the public - despite a wide variety of speculation and accusation.

In March, several German media outlets reported that a Ukrainian group had carried out the attack using a yacht, and that these operatives based their activity out of the port of Rostock. The reports suggested that a Ukrainian-owned company had chartered the yacht, that it had been found near the scene of the attacks, and that explosive residues had been confirmed on board. Ukraine denied this charge.

According to a formal diplomatic note released Tuesday, German investigators have determined that the suspicious yacht was chartered using a false identity. Traces of subsea explosives were found in samples taken aboard the boat, the update confirmed, but it did not specify whether the traces' composition matched the explosive residues collected at the blast sites. (Swedish investigators have confirmed traces of explosives on "foreign objects" found at the scene in Swedish waters.) 

German investigators assess that it is possible that divers could have carried out the attack by attaching explosives to the pipelines, which are within reach for technical diving at about 80 meters below the surface. 

In the update issued Tuesday, German diplomats cautioned that it is not currently possible to identify the perpetrators, or to determine whether the attack was carried out by a state actor.