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Which is it? “Mayday” or “We’re ok”? Russian vessel retracts own Mayday call

Russian icebreaker can’t make up its mind if it needs help or not. Our hunch though is that if it’s a Russian vessel asking for help, it definitely needs it

OSLO, NORWAY – A Russian icebreaking vessel with 33 people on board made a Mayday call during a storm off the coast of western Norway on Tuesday. Russian authorities though said the distress signal had been issued “by accident”.

Is there some language barrier here? The mayday wasn’t some automated message, so it wouldn’t have been on accident.

The Norwegian Joint Rescue Coordination Centre, which initially reported the call from the ship located about 22 km off the town of Aalesund, said its operation had been called off after the vessel regained engine power.

Norwegian authorities Twitter post translation: At 0636 Russian icebreaker has announced Mayday west of Ålesund. Machine Stans. 33 people on board. Full storm in the area.
The rescue helicopter has hosted the ship. Tugs are on their way. The ship has now regained some engine power

Russia’s sea and river transport agency said the ship had issued the Mayday call by accident and it was not in distress, TASS news agency reported.

“There are no problems, the icebreaker is fine, the crew is safe. The distress signal was sent accidentally during an outage on some equipment during the storm,” the Russian Federal Agency for Maritime and River Transportation was quoted as saying.

The vessel had originally reported that it lost power on all four engines and was adrift in the storm, the Norwegian rescue service said.

Two tugboats and a Norwegian coastguard vessel were initially on their way to the scene, but were called off, a rescue service spokeswoman said.

What’s going on?

A relative of a sailor who died aboard the Kursk submarine is offered a drink by a naval officer as she is comforted by another mourner during a ceremony held on a ship above the site where the submarine lies in the Barents Sea August 24, 2000. © Reuters

The Russian government is notoriously averse to asking for outside help, even when it’s a matter of life and death for its own citizens. Many in Russia are still bitterly scarred by their government’s foot-dragging and refusal to accept outside help in rescuing 118 submariners who ultimately all died in the sinking of the Kursk in 2000. More recently, in July of this year, another 14 elite submariners were killed in another incident that Russia initially tried to cover up.

It is unlikely that this latest incident was simply a “communication error” as Russia claiming. Whether it’s another disaster remains to be seen.

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