Suspected Dislodged Anchor from Chinese Container Ship Damages Baltic Gas Pipeline

by Anna

Finnish investigators have reported that a dislodged anchor from a Chinese container ship is believed to have caused damage to the undersea Balticconnector gas pipeline between Finland and Estonia in the Baltic Sea.

The National Bureau of Investigation, a Finnish police branch, announced that they have gathered evidence and data that suggests the Hong Kong-flagged cargo vessel “Newnew Polar Bear” is responsible for damaging the pipeline running across the Gulf of Finland.


Detective Superintendent Risto Lohi, head of the investigation at NBI, revealed in a news conference that a dragging trail measuring 1.5 to 4 meters wide on the seabed leads to the point of damage in the gas pipeline. This trail is presumed to have been created by a heavy 6-ton anchor that was retrieved by the Finnish Navy.


Lohi stated, “There are traces in the anchor that indicate it has been in contact with the gas pipeline,” referring to data from expert analysis. The investigation will now focus on whether the pipeline damage was intentional, unintentional, or a result of “bad seafaring.”


On October 8, Finnish and Estonian gas system operators noticed a sudden drop in pipeline pressure, leading them to shut down the gas flow. Subsequent investigations revealed that the 77-kilometer-long pipeline, which stretches from the Finnish town of Inkoo to the Estonian port of Paldiski, was mechanically damaged in Finland’s economic zone and had shifted from its original seabed position.


The Newnew Polar Bear was named the prime suspect last week due to the coincidence between the ship’s course and position in the Baltic Sea and the time and location of the gas pipeline damage. Recent social media photos of the Chinese vessel, which had made a port call in St. Petersburg, Russia during its Baltic Sea journey, showed that one of its anchors was missing.

Marine Traffic data indicates that the ship is currently sailing in Russia’s northern waters and is presumably en route to China via the Northern Sea Route. Finnish investigators have attempted to contact the ship’s captain but have not been successful. They are now collaborating with Chinese officials on the case.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson emphasized the need for an “objective, fair, and professional” investigation into the Balticconnector damage and maintained that the Chinese vessel was sailing normally at the time.

The Balticconnector pipeline, valued at 300 million euros ($318 million), connects Finland to the European gas network and was launched for commercial use at the start of 2020. Repairs are expected to take until at least the end of April 2024.

Furthermore, Finnish authorities have linked the damage to the Finland-Estonia data cable to the Chinese vessel.

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