Close-up of Baltic anomaly

So what will the Ocean Explorer team find in 80 metres of cold and murky water?

 

Ever since the announcement last year that the team had found a highly irregular and unexpected object lying on the seabed the debate over what it might be has raged.

 

The Swedish team of around 11 individuals  left Stockholm 2 days ago in their new vessel the “Ancylus” (or The Baltic Falcon as it has become known) – tagging along was a 4 person strong Swedish TV documentary crew promising to record the entire event for broadcast on a Discovery ot Sci-Fi channel near you.

 

The last official word received has been that the early part of the voyage had been problematic due to bad weather, so the pace has been slower than everyone would have liked.  The story has caught the imagination of everyone worldwide due to some of the bizarre qualities found in and around the site.

 

Two separate anomalies lie some 200 metres apart, with the main anomaly almost perfectly circular and appearing to be covered in what looks like a combination of straight lines, and right angled edges, not dissimilar to Han Solo’s Millenium Falcon.

 

This on it’s own may be nothing, but when you add certain other factors into the mix the story gets more mysterious.  As well as the highly geometric appearance of the object, some 1400-1500 feet of skid marks / disturbed seabed lead all the way up to BOTH object’s in their final resting place. Speculation still continues that it could be a rock formation, but you have to ask yourself – how many rock formations can move 1400 feet along the seabed?

 

The story gets stranger when we find out that the original survey ship’s anchors were examined upon return and found to be more than 6 times the normal background radiation levels. Where did this radioactive contamination come from?

 

Generally speaking The bottom of the Baltic Sea is what’s known as a “dead zone”, devoid of current and lacking the usual features shaped by normal underwater currents, so this makes the unusual characteristics of the site all the more mysterious.

 

Baltops Disinfo

A recent rumour suggests that a local Swedish newspaper has information regarding interference in the mission from the military. This is false.  The rumour suggests that the OceanX team have been prevented from nearing the site of the anomaly by military commanders currently engaged in the annual BALTOPS military exercises. So what is BALTOPS anyway?

 

Baltic Operations (BALTOPS)

“The BALTOPS (short for Baltic Operations) exercise is the largest international exercise organized in the Baltic. BALTOPS is a U.S. invitational multinational maritime exercise conducted in the Baltic region each year. BALTOPS provides a basis for promoting mutual understanding and maritime platform interoperability between U.S. Navy, NATO, and non-NATO participants through a series of multilateral training exercises in air warfare, shallow water undersea warfare, electronic warfare, air control, air defense, surface warfare, communications, fast patrol boat operations, seamanship, and mine warfare.”

“In the years the United States has been sponsoring BALTOPS, the exercise has developed into a unique experience for many Sailors and their foreign counterparts. The focus of the surface and air exercises was not on war-fighting tactics, but on improving the nations’ cooperative abilities. Scenarios tested the collective force’s ability to respond to maritime disasters, conduct coastal surveillance, provide customs enforcement and a variety of other maritime operations.”

BALTOPS 2012 Mission Patch

“The annual Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) exercises have shown that the people who grow up on these waters know the sea well even if they haven’t tamed it. The U.S. invitational exercises regularly attract most of the Baltic nations as well as Russia, Germany, Poland and the United Kingdom. One of the favorite tasks of the first week’s Phase I exercises was “cross-decking,” the time-honored tradition of ships swapping sailors for a period of time so they can become familiar with other ships’ operations.”

While BALTOPS is a U.S. led, multinational invitational exercise, Germany and Denmark acted as the host nation during alternate years (Germany hosting even-numbered years and Denmark hosting odd-numbered years.) The host nation will normally be asked to host the exercise Main Planning Conference (MPC). The host provides a central receiving area for media representatives, distinguished visitors, and other observers involved in the public affairs plan. This area will provide a place to brief official visitors on BALTOPS mission, exercise participants and exercise schedule prior to being transported to the ship(s) they are designated to embark.

BALTOPS is normally conducted in two phases. The Partnership for Peace (PfP) phase is designed to enhance interoperability of NATO and non-NATO countries in conducting multinational maritime operations. These exercises will focus primarily on communications, shiphandling, search and rescue (SAR), and non-traditional military missions, such as Maritime Sanctions Enforcement, which nations may participate under United Nations auspices. The NATO maritime exercise phase is designed to enhance interoperability of NATO maritime forces through the conduct of military operations in a wartime scenario. Scenarios will stress coordinated maritime operations in Undersea Warfare (USW), Air Defense (AD), Surface Warfare (SUW), and Electronic Warfare (EW).

 

The "Ancylus" - built in 1972 in Sweden

In other news, the specifications of the “Ancylus” (the Ocean X team’s new ship), are available online if anyone is so inclined.  The boat was only recently purchased and so appears under the heading “For Sale: Scientific research vessel “Ancylus”.

 

Built: 1972 at Marinteknik Verkstads AB, Sweden. Yard number 6.
Material: Steel, aluminium superstructure.
Length: 24.17 metres (Lpp = 21.58 m, L = 22.08 metres).
Beam: 5.96 metres.
Draft: 1.85 metres in bow and 2.40 metres in stern (moulded draft 3.29 metres).
Tonnage: 108 GT och 32 NT.
Light ship: 86 tonnes.
Main engines: 2 x Scania DSI 11 R82 ABV, 2 x 240 bHp each engine with Twin-Disc SP-214-PI PTO belt connected to one shaft and a Säffle NAV 36 propeller with 1.0 metres diameter.
Aux. engines: 1 x Scania D5, 90 bHp + 1 x Yamaha 4TNE88-PG 22 bHp, Mecc Alte Spa ECO 28-1L/4 generator at 20 kVA, about 4,300 running hours.
Bow thruster: Hydraulic from main engine at about 30 bHp.
Engine room equipment: Electric Desmi 70- 50-220-O2 bilge pump 30 m³/h 5 bar, 2 x electric fire/bilge pumps with 4 m³/h each at 5 bar + small impeller bilge pump on starboard engine, Parka 271/2 24 kW boiler with BEO 10 V burner, Jowa M-87 15 ppm bilge water separator, Victron Skylla TG 24/50 battery charger.
Consumption: 60 -70 litres/hour at 10.5 knots.
Bunker: Diesel – 4.9 + 5.3 + 0.5, total of 10.7 m³
Fresh water – 4.25 m³
Ballast tanks – 12.1 tonnes lead + 978 kilo steel.
Waste oil – 2.0 m³
Septic – 1.19 m³
Grey water – 0.74 m³
Bilge water – 0.75 m³

 

Website

The Ocean Explorer team have just launched a new-look website which has all the information and pictures covering their previous exploits.  For up-to-date breaking news and information their Facebook page seems to be the favorite place right now. Co-Leader of the team Dennis Aasberg has communicated with the Facebook group tonight, but so far only to post the URL of the new website.

 

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