Submarine cable damage in Norway. Russian ship registered

A Russian trawler was recorded using a ship tracker in the Arctic Ocean. Per-Erich Schulz, a marine biologist, described the fishing vessel passing close to them several times just before damaging the undersea cables.

There is already speculation that the Russians may have been responsible for damaging the telecommunications link connecting Svalbard to the rest of the continent. Now Norway’s public broadcaster NRK has released an animation showing the Russian ship’s movements on radar. The short clip shows the ship turning several times and passing the cables.

Continuation of the material below the video

Damage to undersea cable in Svalbard

In January 2022, one of the two optical fibers running under the Arctic Ocean was damaged. The cable failure occurred approximately 130-230 km from Longyearbyen on the island of Spitsbergen, the main city of the archipelago and its administrative capital.

Norwegian police

Undersea optical fiber damaged in 2022.

Investigation revealed that the failure may have been caused by trawling (pulling of fishing nets) or anchor dragging on the seabed. However, the research was eventually stopped due to insufficient evidence.

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The cables connecting Svalbard to Harstad in northern Norway are almost 1,400 km long and were laid in 2004. They allow residents to use broadband internet. Earlier, satellite communication was the only solution.

Undersea cables facilitating global connectivity.  The red arrow indicates the optical fiber connecting Svalbard to the rest of Norway

Submarine cable diagram

Undersea cables facilitating global connectivity. The red arrow indicates the optical fiber connecting Svalbard to the rest of Norway

A Chinese ship may have damaged a gas pipeline in the Gulf of Finland

This is not the first such case recently. In October 2023, the Baltic Connector gas pipeline connecting Estonia to Finland shut down. Authorities in Finland, in whose waters the incident occurred, and Kasgrid Finland, the operator of the Baltic Connector undersea gas pipeline, announced that the pipeline had been taken out of service for at least several months “as a result of an external impact”.

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