Chinese Container Ship Caught Red-Handed Damaging Baltic Gas Pipeline

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Investigators in Finland accuse a Chinese vessel of destroying two underwater telecommunication cables and a subsea pipeline that connects Finland to Estonia on the 8th of October. The Baltic Connector is a 94-mile-long pipeline connecting Finland’s gas grid to a major underground storage facility in Latvia.

The operators shut down the pipeline after the engineers detected an unexplained decrease in pressure. Investigators determined quickly that human error was the cause of damage to cables and pipelines. Damage to a telecommunications cable was discovered when the gas line was damaged. Later, a second damaged telecommunications line was discovered.

He said that the damage to the underwater infrastructure was taken very seriously and that its causes had been investigated since last Sunday.

According to Finnish public broadcaster Yle, Finland’s Prime Minister Petteri Orpo stated that the damage could not have been caused by normal usage or pressure fluctuations.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated that the alliance shared information and was ready to assist member states who were concerned.

The Russians were the obvious suspects. In May 2022, Russia will cut off natural gas supplies to Finland.

Russia stopped gas exports to Finland on Saturday. This was a highly symbolic act that came only days after the Nordic nation announced its intention to join NATO. It also marked a possible end to Finland’s nearly fifty years of importing gas from Russia.

Gazprom’s decision was in line, in fact, with an earlier announcement made by the Russian energy company after Helsinki refused to pay in rubles for gas as Russian President Vladimir Putin had demanded that European countries do ever since Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

As the damage happened days after the anniversary date of the destruction by the US and Ukraine of the Nord Stream Pipelines (no, really I don’t think the US or Ukraine blew the Nord Stream Pipelines up), some speculated that there might be a connection.

The investigation has now taken on a mysterious twist.

Finland has said that the anchor of a Chinese vessel was likely responsible for the mysterious rupture of an undersea pipeline in the Baltic Sea this month. This raised concerns over the vulnerability of European Infrastructure to sabotage, amid the mounting tensions between Russia and the West.

The National Bureau of Investigation in Finland announced on Tuesday that it had recovered an anchor dragged across the seabed. The anchor had traces that indicated it was in contact with the Balticconnector pipe.

The police believe that Newnew Polar Bear was responsible for the damage. It was a containership that was sailing under Hong Kong’s flag, owned by a Chinese shipping firm, and was in the vicinity at the time.

The Newnew Polar Bear is a container vessel that was specifically designed to operate in ice-covered waters. The ship made its first trip from Russia to China, and back.

NewNew Shipping Line, a Chinese shipping company, has completed its first round-trip of the inaugural regular service linking China to western Russia through the Arctic.

New Polar Bear, a company vehicle capable of transporting up to 1,638 standard containers (TEU), arrived in St. Petersburg today, after completing a six-week return trip that began in Shanghai, in August.

The vessel made intermediate stops in Arkhangelsk along the Northern Sea Route in September, and in Baltiysk in the Baltic Sea over the weekend.

HNN reported that the ship left St. Petersburg in July for its eastbound leg and arrived in Shanghai, China on 4th August. In July, the launch of the service was marked by a ceremony in Moscow that included Arctic and trade officials.

The ship also turned off its Automatic Identification System, or AIS, on the night that the Balticconnector was damaged, adding to suspicion. And now, the captain of the ship refuses to respond to questions. China wants to be included in the investigation.

So far, it looks like a Chinese-flagged ship heading to a Russian port turned off its identifying signal and dragged its anchor to snag the Balticconnector and two telecommunications cables. I’m sure there is nothing to see here.