Mysterious divers rescued near Polish energy sites in the dead of night offer dubious explanations and disappear

The Coast Guard rescued three divers off the north coast of Poland over the weekend whose dubious explanation for their nighttime dive near critical energy infrastructure, along with their mysterious identity, has reportedly sparked a multi-agency investigation. The three men, who told authorities they were Spanish nationals, were rescued by lifeguards near the Polish coastal city of Gdansk on Saturday night after their small motorboat broke down and they were unable to return to shore.

Since then, doubts about their intentions have increased. They were rescued not far from the Naftoport facility in Gdańsk Port, which receives tanker shipments of oil and other petroleum products. They were also found near an area where construction of a new floating natural gas terminal is planned.

A picture provided by Poland’s Pomeranian Police Department shows a boat used by men who were found diving off Gdańsk Bay in the middle of the night on January 15, 2023.

Pomeranian police

The Maritime Search and Rescue Service SAR told CBS News that police officers, firefighters and medical personnel were involved in the rescue operation. SAR spokesman Rafal Goeck described the rescue operation shortly before 2 a.m. local time as “rather unnatural”.

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

“In my 12-year career with the Maritime Search and Rescue Service, I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said. “It’s pretty unnatural to dive in these conditions.”

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

Michal Fludra/NurPhoto/Getty

The red 13-foot pleasure boat collapsed about three nautical miles north of Gdansk. The ship’s crew said they fought for six hours to get it going again. There was no explanation as to why they waited so long in the dark and cold on rough seas to call for help.

Police officers determined that the men were not licensed to operate the boat and had not been granted diving permits. According to Polish media reports, only one of the men had a Spanish passport, the others only offered verbal identification.

Another problem 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 Gdańsk Gulf Sea Rescue Service (SAR) shows the diving gear of three men who were rescued after their boat crashed off the coast of northern Poland in the middle of the night on January 15, 2023.

Gdansk Sea Rescue Service (SAR)

Experienced amber hunters interviewed by Polish media said another thing was wrong: the men had an underwater scooter that was used to quickly pull divers through the water — something that doesn’t particularly help when hunting for small objects on the seabed would since the propeller of such a device lifts debris from the ground and reduces visibility.

Officials initially did not appear to see anything suspicious about the men night diving near critical infrastructure without permits and atypical amber hunting gear, and local police did not investigate and released the men without further questioning.

According to reports, they all left Poland.

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

Police and the Polish Internal Security Agency have started investigating the matter. According to various reports, Poland’s Central Police Investigation Bureau, a unit that deals with organized crime, is the lead agency. The bureau declined CBS News’ request for comment on the case.

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


The incident has raised serious concerns about protecting vital national energy infrastructure as Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine continues to drive up energy prices. A thorough investigation is to be expected, especially so shortly after the sabotage attack on the Nord Stream 1 underwater gas pipeline a few weeks ago.

European and US officials have strong suspects that Russia is behind the attack on the pipeline.

Poland’s port of Gdansk, vital to the country’s energy supply, is only about 20 miles from Russia’s distant, equally strategic western territory of Kaliningrad. Mysterious divers rescued near Polish energy sites in the dead of night offer dubious explanations and disappear

Rick Schindler

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