ATHENS, February 18 (Itar-Tass) -- A Russian naval repair ship on Monday had an engine failure during its run off the Greek coasts between the Icaria and Mykonos islands in the Aegean Sea, Itar-Tass learned from the Russian embassy in Athens on Monday.
“All is well aboard the ship that is a floating repair base to service naval ships,” an embassy official said. “The ship went adrift. Then it was decided to turn for assistance to the Greek side. In a gale the ship will be towed to safety where the sailors will repair it to continue on the way. The ship was on its way back home from the cruise in the Mediterranean.”
The embassy official said Greece had sent a tugboat, a naval frigate and a helicopter toward the Russian ship. The embassy has no direct communication with the ship and receives information from the Greek Navy and from the headquarters of the Russian Navy.
The floating repair base PM-138 of the Russian Black Sea Fleet on Monday went dead in the water in the Aegean Sea while on the run from Tartus, Syria, to Sevastopol, Itar-Tass learned in Moscow from Captain First Class Igor Dygalo, the chief of the information and public relations service of the Russian Navy.
“According to preliminary information, the engine failure was caused by the gale in the Aegean Sea,” the navy’s spokesman said. “There are no armaments on board the floating repair base. The crew feels satisfactorily. The seas are rather rough with wind velocity about 15-17 metres per second.”
Dygalo said the naval command had informed Greece and Turkey of the situation by diplomatic channels. The Greek frigate Babulina and tugboat Teklos and a helicopter of the Turkish Navy had been sent toward the PM-138 floating repair base.
Heavy storm exposes Russian Syria-based spy ship off Israel shore
February 22, 2008, 2:27 PM (GMT+02:00)
Rescued Russian spy ship in Greek port
DEBKAfile’s military sources reveal that the Russian Amur 1 ClassPM 138 naval boat, caught up in the heavy storm raging across the MiddleEast and Mediterranean last week, flashed a distress signal Tuesday Feb. 19. The vessel was on its way from a Syrian port to Sevastopol on the Black Sea when it was thrown off course by the high seas. A Greek Navy frigate responded to the call and escorted the PM 138 to the island of Chios.
The spokesmen said the ship’s crew numbered 99. It was unarmed and was heading for home port after a long stay at one of the Syrian Navy’s Mediterranean bases.
Certain facts were accidentally disclosed as a result of the storm, DEBKAfile’s military sources point out:
1. Russian naval vessels are spending long periods running into months at the Syrian military bases of Latakia and Tartous.
2. Witnesses in Greece say the vessel, described officially as an auxiliary repair craft, boasted an unusual number of antennas for gathering intelligence. Its mission was clearly to gather information on Israeli military and naval movements while cruising opposite the Israeli coast.
Our sources add that, in recent months, the Russian Admiral Kutznetsov carrier with 47 Su-33 fighter-bombers and 10 helicopters on its decks visited one of the Syrian naval bases, along with the huge Moskva missile cruiser.
Israel officials prefer to ignore this mounting Russian naval presence to the north so as not to mar relations with the Russian president Vladimir Putin.