Mystery as unmanned spy-ship washes up on Scottish island

The mystery owner of the autonomous wave glider which washed up on the Isle of Tiree at the end of September is still to be found as Stornoway Coastguard Operations Centre seeks answers.

Pictures were taken of the boat and posted on the team’s Facebook page in a bid to find out about the origins of the vessel and to find its owner. Over 100 members of the public were quick to help out the team and identify the object as an autonomous wave glider that could well have travelled miles from home. These vessels gather ocean data using energy from the waves and solar panels.

Although the boat is only used by the US and the Royal Navy, no country has come forward to claim the £300,000 vessel and the Ministry of Defence has said that it does not belong to them, according to the Mirror.

The Mirror says naval sources believe the spy boat could have been deployed by the Russians to spy on the movement of British nuclear subs as it doesn’t have any navigation lights (a legal requirement) which suggest it was on an intelligence gathering mission.

The stealth ship was designed to covertly enter enemy or hostile territory and monitor the movement of submarines or coastlines regarded as too dangerous for manned vessels. Because of the vessel’s very low profile it can sit just outside military naval bases and monitor the movement of ships and subs, but its slow speeds means it struggles in currents.

It was first developed around 10-years ago, but a more updated and technically sophisticated version was launched in 2017. But seemingly the Russian Navy developed a near-clone of the Wave Glider called Fugu in 2016 – if this one is Russian, it might explain why it has not been claimed.

“This is all a bit fishy,” a Royal Navy source told the Mirror. “It’s not every day that an unmanned spy ship is found washed up on the shore of a small island. In all likelihood it belongs to the US but that begs the question why it has not been claimed. There is a possibility that it belongs to Russia but even if it does, they will never admit it. They do have various stealth vessels similar to the Wave Glider so it’s not beyond the bounds of possibility that it’s Russian.”

The Receiver of Wreck, the UK official who deals with salvage cases and establishes ownership, is also now involved in the case.

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One response to “Mystery as unmanned spy-ship washes up on Scottish island”

  1. Bryn Holliday says:

    Interesting article