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Mystery as unmanned £300,000 spy ship washes up off UK - and no country is claiming it [1/7] - wave glider 2.jpg (1/1)
The Wave Glider stealth vessel is made in the US and is only used by the
Americans and the Royal Navy - but the Ministry of Defence says it doesn't
belong to Britain
Mystery surrounds the discovery of an unmanned £300,000 spy ship which has been
washed up off the British coastline on a remote Scottish island.
A US-made Wave Glider stealth vessel was discovered on the coast of Tiree, a
small island located on the far west of the inner Hebrides two weeks ago.
Although the boat is only used by the US and the Royal Navy, no country has come
forward to claim the vessel and the Ministry of Defence has said that it does
not belong to them.
Now naval sources believe the spy boat could have been deployed by the Russians
to spy on the movement of British nuclear subs.
The robot boat looks like a 10ft surf board covered in solar panels and
The Wave Glider is coloured dark grey and does not have any navigation lights
which is a legal requirement for all ships at sea which suggest it was on an
intelligence gathering mission.
The £300,000 vessel is made by a sister company of the US defence giant Boeing
and is only known to be used by the British and US military.
It was first developed around 10-years ago but a more updated and technically
sophisticated version was launched in 2017.
But it has also emerged that the Russian Navy developed a near-clone of the Wave
Glider called Fugu in 2016 Ė if this one is Russian, it might explain why it has
not been claimed.
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
Because of the vesselís very low profile it can sit just outside military naval
bases and monitor the movement of ships and subs.
It can deploy on intelligence gathering missions for months on end and is
understood to have completed a 10,000 mile voyage from San Francisco in the
United States to Australia.
The vessel can only travel at very slow speeds, between two and three knots,
which is one of its major limitations, and can struggle in strong tidal
Wave Gliders have satellite communication and usually maintain regular contact
with a shore-based operator.
Given the slow speed, the operators should be able to track the vessel closely
which adds to the mystery as to why this one has not been claimed.
Tiree is located around 100 miles north west of Her Majestyís Naval Base (HMNB)
Clyde at Faslane, Helensburgh- the operating base for the UKís fleet of nuclear
This includes the Vanguard class which carries the U.K.ís Trident nuclear
deterrent as well as the nuclear-powered Astute and Trafalgar hunter-killer
The Wave Glider may have been involved in an exercise to see whether these subs
could be detected leaving the base.
One Royal Navy source last night said: ďThis is all a bit fishy. Itís 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 itís not beyond the bounds of possibility that itís Russian.Ē
The vessel was discovered on September 28th by Tiree Coastguard who posted the
following message when the vessel was found: ďThe team were called today to
reports of an object in the water, once on scene we secured the item. We are
currently trying to find out some more information as to the objectís origin and
owner. If anyone has any information please get in touch.Ē
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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