The Technology Used To Protect Nord Stream 2 From Sabotage

Advanced monitoring systems, minesweepers, and unmanned mini-submarines

The hysteria surrounding the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline does not subside. While the Danish authorities name the final terms of construction, the US continues to put pressure on Europe, threatening heavy sanctions. Kiev adds fuel to the fire, which puts the frighteners on by citing the terrible economic consequences of stopping gas transit through Ukraine. Berlin has its own arguments. While the standoff is going on in the political plane, and no one can rule out a military option – for example, sabotage, we found out how Nord Stream 2 is protected.

“I believe that, in fact, there is little that can threaten Nord Stream 2,” says military expert Aleksey Leonkov. “Firstly, it is technically extremely difficult to commit sabotage, and even at the bottom of the sea. There is a need for special deep-sea underwater vehicles. And not all states have them.”

Therefore, even if a section of Nord Stream 2 is blown up, it will be clear that the sabotage is the work of state intelligence agencies. This can no longer be attributed to extremist terrorists. In addition, the statistics speak for themselves: So far, there has not been a single terrorist attack or deliberate bombing on underwater oil pipelines, gas pipelines or on the same communication cables in the Atlantic. The condition of such objects is constantly carefully monitored with the help of various technical means. As for the gas pipeline, this is a constant check of the pressure and the amount of gas flow in the pipe, at the exit from Russia and at the entrance to Europe.

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“So no one will walk along the Nord Stream 2 pipe with automatic weapons and it is also not necessary to entangle it with a ‘thorn’,” the expert believes.

He was skeptical about the idea of using the situation around Nord Stream 2 as a pretext for increasing the military presence in the Baltic.

“What for? We have enough strength there. More potential of the Baltic Fleet will increase, if necessary, without any flows,” says Leonkov. “These are things in different planes, and they do not affect each other in any way.”

Nevertheless, the expert is convinced that the monitoring system should be fine-tuned to the smallest detail.

“Russia is responsible as a supplier. The contract clearly states how much we pump and with what pressure. If something happens, the gas line is instantly blocked, a repair team is formed, the accident site is determined, and with the help of, for example, special underwater welding or robotic manipulators, the malfunction is eliminated.”

At the same time, it is known that Russia also has special unmanned underwater vehicles that can be used as a monitoring tool. One of them is the “Galtel” robotic complex. A few years ago, this deep reconnaissance sapper had already been tested off the coast of Syria. It was busy searching for unexploded ordnance and guarding the waters off the port of Tartus. In parallel with this, “Galtel” helped to create the most detailed map of the depths.

“Galtel” navigates under water using special sonar navigation systems. The fact is that neither the Russian GLONASS nor the overseas GPS reaches the depths, so reference beacons are used, which set the coordinates of the movement of the underwater vehicle. But the sight of Galtel is much more important – it can make out even small camouflaged objects on the seabed – from a saboteur swimmer to a matchbox stuck in the silt.

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There is another underwater unmanned new thing – a product of the “Region” enterprise. In contrast to “Galtel”, it is still in the stage of development work. All that is known: the length of the device is on average two meters. The diameter is comparable to “Galtel”. Its advantage is that it can carry weapons. A special modular system allows to “hang” on it an underwater machine gun, mines for remote clearance. So it is able not only to monitor the situation, but also, on occasion, to protect the coastal infrastructure from underwater sabotage.

In addition, if necessary, classic minesweepers can also cover the area of Nord Stream 2. Such as the Baltic-based Aleksandr Obukhov of the new project 12700 with the Aleksandrit-ISPUM system.

“For example, it can search for laid land mines on the pipeline. Its hydro-acoustic system can detect all types of mines, including anchor and bottom mines, even in difficult hydrological conditions. In addition, it is able to detect small-sized self-propelled robotic combat systems,” added the expert Aleksey Leonkov.

Maksim Kislyakov

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