Thursday, August 14, 2014

Why is the Netherlands Helping the Russian Navy Right Now?

"Transshelf" ferries two Victor III SSN, July 2009 [photo: HeavyLift RU]
                                                               [click here for August 28 update]
                                                               [click here for August 30 update]

As the world continues to wait for officials to finish their investigation of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 tragedy in which 193 Dutch citizens perished, the Dutch company Dockwise Shipping BV is quietly preparing to assist the Russian Navy ferry three nuclear-powered attack submarines to Russian shipyards. With the possibility of Russian complicity in the MH17 tragedy, why would the Netherlands allow these operations to continue?

The semi-submersible heavy-lift ship "Transshelf" departed Singapore on July 24, briefly stopped in China in early August, then continued towards Rybachiy Submarine Base on the Kamchatka Peninsula, where it arrived on August 12 (local time). Locals mistook it for "Blue Marlin", another Dockwise ship. As of August 15, "Transshelf" was anchored in Avachinskaya Bukhta near 5258N 15833E. The ship is scheduled to ferry two Akula I-class SSN ("Bratsk" and "Samara") – via the Arctic Northern Sea Route (NSR) -- to Zvezdochka Ship Repair Center in Severodvinsk (White Sea). The approved window for the NSR transit is August 25-September 15, 2014.

The second ship, "Hai Yang Shi You 278", departed Dalian, China, on August 10 and is scheduled to arrive at Rybachiy Submarine Base on August 18. It will be used to ferry an Oscar II-class SSGN ("Chelyabinsk") to Zvezda Far East Shipyard in Bolshoy Kamen (near Vladivostok).

I hope the grieving families of those who perished on MH17 are okay with this...

Update 1: Here is a news item (+ video) from July 2009 when "Transshelf" conducted the world's first ferry mission of two nuclear-powered attack submarines (Russian Victor III SSN).

Update 2: A review of the NSR Administration website indicates Zvezdochka Ship Repair Center (on behalf of Dockwise Shipping BV) submitted a request on April 14 for "Transshelf" to transit the NSR; the NSR Administration approved the request two days later.

Update 3: Updated arrival date for "Transshelf" in the Rybachiy area (August 12).

Update 4: Updated latest position for "Transshelf" as of August 15.