A yacht chartered by six shadowy operatives with fake passports, explosives delivered to the crew in the dead of night, and a mysterious organization outside the control of a nation state.
These are ingredients in a compelling new theory that’s beginning to emerge for the unsolved bomb attacks against the $20 billion Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines on September 26 2022.
The huge explosions caused an estimated $500 million of damage and leave serious doubts about whether this major infrastructure network, built to transport gas from Russia to Western Europe, will ever be repaired. The attack triggered an ongoing blame game between Moscow and the West as international authorities struggle to pinpoint a culprit.
Investigators have now zeroed in on a 50ft sailing yacht, named Andromeda, as a crucial piece in the puzzle. Andromeda left a German port in early September carrying six individuals who rented the boat using high-quality fake passports – then embarked on a journey that took it directly over the blast area.
In another intriguing twist, a huge oil tanker, the Minerva Julie, spent an entire week circling a section of ocean spookily close to the area at around the same time as Andromeda’s voyage. It’s led some observers to ask: was this more than coincidence?
A theory has emerged about the Nord Stream attacks which speculates a yacht hired in Germany was used by operatives who planted the bombs. The group are thought to have taken delivery of the explosives at a picturesque German port town before embarking on the voyage
Investigators have zeroed in on this 50ft sailing yacht, named Andromeda, as a crucial piece in the mystery of who attacked the Nord Stream pipelines. The yacht was hired by six individuals using fake identification and embarked on a journey over the blast sites in the Baltic Sea
Andromeda’s journey coincided with a period when the Minerva Julie (pictured) spent a week circling an area of ocean near where the Nord Stream attack happened. The ship’s owners said it was simply ‘awaiting her next voyage instructions’
Andromeda left its port in Rostock, Germany, on September 6. The boat was rented by six unknown individuals who provided fake identification documents and indicated to staff at the yacht’s owner, Mola Yachting GmbH, they were planning a cruise through the Baltic Sea.
The boat’s rental was covered by company registered in Poland, according to German officials. That firm is thought to be controlled by Ukrainian owners.
The day after it left Rostock, the boat arrived in Wiek, a much smaller German port town about 60 miles north east.
German officials believe it was here that the yacht’s crew received the explosives used to blow up the pipelines. They have speculated the bombs were couriered to the crew in a white van during the night, when the harbor was unwatched by surveillance cameras.
Investigators, who also suspect more operatives may have arrived that night to help with the mission, searched Andromeda in late January and found traces of explosives inside.
Wiek harbor master Renee Redmann said he thought nothing of the half-dozen crew that arrived on the yacht. He only learned something was amiss when he was contacted by authorities in January and asked to hand over the harbor logs.
It’s not clear exactly how long the Andromeda remained in Wiek before it continued its journey.
But from there, the crew traveled north east further into the Baltic Sea – and towards the area of ocean above where the Nord Stream pipes were attacked 80 meters below the surface.
What happened next isn’t entirely clear. The boat was small enough that it wasn’t fitted with a tracking device found on large commercial vessels.
The boat arrived in Wiek on September 7. It’s been speculated the bombs were couriered to the crew in a white van during the night, when the harbor was unwatched by surveillance cameras
Tracking data for the Minerva Julie shows it spent around a week in the area where the blasts happened. The ship’s owners said it was simply ‘awaiting her next voyage instructions’
What is known is that Andromeda eventually docked again in mid-September at the tiny Danish island of Christiansø, ten miles away from the larger island of Bornholm and a few miles from the blast sites.
Danish police contacted the administrator on Christiansø, Søren Thiim Andersen, in December to ask for information about any boats that entered its main harbor between September 16 and 18. Police also told Andersen to ask the island’s residents for any pictures or video they had taken in the ports on those dates.
The whole trip lasted roughly two weeks before Andromeda was returned to Rostock. Days later, the bombs were detonated, critically damaging the pipelines and releasing tens of thousands of tons of methane gas.
Investigators are now trying to piece together how the shadowy crew aboard the Andromeda could have carried out the attacks during their trip. Military officials agree that such an operation would require advanced equipment, a large amount of explosives and a highly-trained, well-funded crew. Some dispute such a mission could be carried out from a five-cabin rental yacht.
The mystery is compounded by the movements of an oil tanker named Minerva Julie for a week in September.
The 600-foot-long, Greek-flagged tanker was headed eastwards from Rotterdam when it paused in the Baltic Sea and spent seven days, from September 5 to 13, circling an area of ocean close to where the pipelines were targeted.
Minerva Maritime, the vessel’s owners, said on March 10 that the ship was simply ‘awaiting her next voyage instructions’.
Open source intelligence analyst Oliver Alexander, who has given a detailed analysis of Andromeda’s movements, speculated on Substack that the yacht could have transported the team and supplies to Minerva Julie, a large ship much better equipped for such a mission.
American intelligence officials recently said a pro-Ukrainian group could have carried out the attack. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said America is responsible
Russia was also accused of carrying out the Nord Stream gas explosions. Explanations range from divers to spy subs, and underwater drones, with one possible motive being to cripple Europe’s winter energy supplies
A report by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh claimed the U.S. was responsible for the Nord Stream pipeline attacks. Navy divers alleged planted the explosives in June, using NATO exercises as cover. They were then detonated remotely in September, it is claimed.
Investigators and some intelligence officials are also considering the view that the culprits weren’t acting on behalf of a nation state. In other words, they didn’t have the power and resources of a government or military behind them.
The suspicion was given added weight last week when American intelligence officials briefed that a pro-Ukrainian group may have carried out the attack without the knowledge of President Volodymyr Zelensky or his government.
The theory with Andromeda at its center is the latest to surface for how the attacks were carried out – and who was responsible.
A sensational, and highly controversial, report by Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh in February claimed specialized U.S. Navy diving teams carried out the attack during a top secret mission overseen by President Joe Biden.
The White House and the CIA flatly rejected the report and branded it ‘complete fiction’.
Russia has blamed the U.S. for the attacks and Vladimir Putin said last week that any speculation that Ukraine was responsible is ‘sheer nonsense’. American intelligence has said a pro-Ukrainian group was responsible. The United Kingdom was also previously accused by Russia.