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Mysterious divers rescued near Polish energy sites in the middle of the night offer dubious explanation and disappear

The Coast Guard rescued three divers off Poland’s northern coast over the weekend whose dubious explanation of their overnight dive near critical energy infrastructure, as well as their mysterious identities, have reportedly sparked an investigation inter-agency. The three men, who told authorities they were Spanish nationals, were rescued near the Polish coastal city of Gdansk on Saturday evening after their small motorboat broke down and they were unable to return to earth.

Since then, doubts about their intentions have multiplied. They were rescued not far from the Naftoport facility at the port of Gdansk, which receives cargoes of oil and other petroleum products. They were also found near an area where there is plans to build a new floating natural gas terminal.

An image provided by the Pomeranian Police Department in Poland shows a boat used by men found diving off the Gulf of Gdansk in the middle of the night on January 15, 2023.

Pomeranian Police

The SAR maritime search and rescue service told CBS News the rescue operation involved police, firefighters and medical personnel. SAR spokesman Rafal Goeck described the rescue operation – just before 2 a.m. local time – as “rather unnatural”.

“We received a signal from the fire department about a vessel in trouble,” Goeck told CBS News, adding that conditions at the time were difficult, with strong winds and rough seas. The air temperature was only about 43 degrees Fahrenheit and the water was closer to 37.

“In my 12-year career with the Maritime Search and Rescue Service, I have never experienced anything like this,” he said. “It’s a rather unnatural thing to dive in these conditions.”

Iran's first tanker sits at Naftoport in Gdansk, Poland
A tanker carrying 2 million barrels of crude oil for Poland’s Lotos refinery is seen at the Naftoport oil terminal in Gdansk, Poland, in a 2016 file photo.

Michal Fludra/NurPhoto/Getty

The 13ft red pleasure boat broke down about three nautical miles north of Gdansk. The ship’s crew said they struggled for six hours to get it running again. There was no explanation as to why they could have waited so long, in the dark and cold on rough seas, to call for help.

Police officials determined that the men were not licensed to operate the boat and had not obtained clearance to dive. According to Polish media, only one of the men had a Spanish passport, while the others offered only verbal identification.

Another difficulty was their explanation: the men claimed to have been looking for amber. While the Baltic Sea is famous for its vast deposits of amber, searching for it in the dark is unlikely to be a successful strategy.

An image provided by the Gulf of Gdansk Maritime Search and Rescue (SAR) service shows the diving equipment used by three men who were rescued after their boat broke down while diving off the north coast of Poland in the middle of the night on January 15, 2023.

Gdansk Maritime Assistance Service (SAR)

Seasoned amber hunters interviewed by Polish media said one more thing didn’t add up: the men had an underwater scooter, used to drag divers quickly through the water – something that wouldn’t help in a hunt for small objects on the seabed, especially as such, a device’s propeller lifts debris from the bottom, decreasing visibility.

Officers apparently didn’t initially see anything suspicious about the men diving near critical infrastructure at night without a permit and with atypical amber-hunting gear, and local police took no action. on the case, releasing the men without further questioning.

They would all have left Poland.

Cezary Przepiorka, deputy captain of the port of Gdansk, told Polish media that only one of the men had official identification and that the phone numbers provided by the divers were incorrect or non-functional.

The police and the Polish Internal Security Agency have started investigating the case. Various reports indicate that the Central Investigation Bureau of the Polish Police, a unit that deals with organized crime, is the lead agency. The bureau declined CBS News’ request to comment on the case.

The United States and the European Union accuse Russia of sabotaging Nord Stream pipelines


The incident has raised serious concerns about the protection of vital national energy infrastructure as Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine continues to keep energy prices skyrocketing. A thorough investigation can be expected, especially so soon after the sabotage attack on the Nordstream 1 underwater gas pipeline just a few weeks ago.

European and American officials strongly suggested that Russia was behind the attack on the pipeline.

The Polish port of Gdansk, which is vital for the country’s energy supply, is only about 20 miles from Russia’s equally strategic western territory, Kaliningrad.

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