February 21, 2018

Disappearances of Two (High Security) Russian Shipbuilding Engineers

The following draws on a French language article of January 24, 2018 titled "Mysterious disappearances of two Russian engineers" on  "Khan's" mainly Russian website, The portal of the naval forces of the Russian Federation. 

Engineer A

Over the last 4 weeks, two Russian shipbuilding engineers have been reported missing. Life working in trusted positions of the Russian military-industrial complex can be grim. 

Engineer A, aged 38, formally employed by the Yantar shipyard at Kaliningrad (see map below) was officially reported missing on January 11, 2018. Kaliningrad is a high security Russian Baltic Fleet Base area. There the Yantar shipyard builds, amongst other things, Project 11356M frigates, which are equipped with Kalibr cruise missiles.

The Russian Federal Security Bureau (FSB) had become suspicious of Engineer A's activities in nearby Vilnius, Lithuania (a NATO country) in July 2017. Engineer A had then, in agreement with Yantar, stopped working for Yantar in August 2017. On January 11, 2018 the FSB issued a "search" warrant for Engineer A.  It is unclear whether the FSB eventually arrested Engineer A.

Engineer B

Engineer A's disappearance raised suspicions of a pattern occuring with the later disappearance of Engineer BEngineer B was a "first class" engineer [1] of the Malakhit Design Bureau [2] (St. Petersburg) on January 24, 2018. Engineer B lived alone in the suburbs of St. Petersburg.

Tragically, on January 25, 2018, it was reported (Russian article) that Engineer B was found hanging in his St. Petersburg apartment.

[1]  By implication Engineer B held a senior position with access to nuclear submarine Top Secrets.
       This may have included nuclear submarine design information collected by espionage from all

       other nuclear submarine building nations (as well as the German 212's smoothly faired 
       demagnetised hull).

[2]  The Malakhit Bureau along with Rubin Design Bureau are the two leading Russian engineering
       firms that specialize in the development of nuclear submarines. The Malakhit Bureau designed
       Russia's latest SSGN, the Project 885 Yasen> The Yasen is probably of high interest to Western
       countries and certainly its stealth and SSGN VLS features are of interest to China.


Not all is known about the reasons for Engineer B's suspected suicide. If it was work related, high security work can be highly isolating and alienating. In Russia security pressures are not improved by the low pay Russian engineers recieve for highly sensitive defense work. Russia's dark, very cold,  northern Winter also doesn't help. 

Engineer A was based at the highly militarized Kaliningrad, "exclavein orange on the Baltic, problematically surrounded by NATO countries, separating it from the main Russian landmass. Kaliningrad functions as the headquarters of  Russia's Baltic Fleet, ringed by Chernyakhovsk (air base)Donskoye (air base) and Kaliningrad Chkalovsk (naval air base). Engineer B lived and worked in St. Petersburg, also marked on map. (Map courtesy of Geography in the News via National Geographic)


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