The ‘Putin’s tentacles’ – Russian hardware of German submarines

BERLIN, (BM) – Germany is at risk and security problems after it became clear that at least 100 civilian vessels, including two submarines of the Navy, are equipped with Russian hardware. The German edition Bild announced the news, and Deutsche Welle made a detailed analysis of the events.

According to the Germans, the Navi-Sailor 4100 navigation system was developed by the Russian company Transas, which was bought by the Finnish company Wartsila almost two years ago. However, the problem is this: Berlin integrated the Russian navigation system into German vessels in 2015, and despite the purchase, the company’s defense unit remains under Russian control.

According to the Bild report, the encryption of data by the Russian navigation system does not meet NATO standards, and this is a prerequisite for “cyber sabotage and complete disability.”

“During the worst case of a cyber attack, the navigation data may be hacked, and the ship may completely lose its ability to work,” Bild quoted an unnamed officer from the German Navy as saying. The report also states that Russia sometimes carries out naval maneuvers near Germany’s coastline in the Baltic Sea.

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The German U35 and U36 submarines have integrated Russian hardware. They were put into operation in 2015 and 2016, respectively. Both subs are the pride of the German Navy – highly maneuverable, quiet, and elusive for a long time underwater.

The Transas octopus and its tentacles?

The problem could be much more severe and affect more than just the German Navy. According to a presentation on the parent company Wartsila website, Transas provides 35% of the electronic mapping systems used in international merchant shipping and ports. What’s more, Transas provides simulation equipment worldwide, holding 45% of this market.

Weeks ago, Bild sent a questionnaire to the Ministry of Defense about the Transas system’s use but received only a brief answer that Germany was making efforts to ensure IT security and prevent cyberattacks. However, this in no way responds to the questions asked by Bild regarding the security associated with the use of the Russian navigation system.

And how far do the tentacles of the Russian navigation system go? “Marine equipment on board and data services are using more than 13,000 merchant ships and patrol boats of the navy and the Coast Guard fleet of more than 100 countries,” Wartsila said.

A debate began in the Bundestag

The Greens in the Bundestag has sparked a debate, and discussions are underway on “what makes Russian hardware on German submarines.”

Thomas Lindren of the Defense Committee said: “The Bundeswehr must ensure that naval navigation software does not constitute a security leak. The ministry must quickly explain why a manufacturer in NATO countries does not use software,” Lindner said.


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