Crew Caught Smuggling Weapons To China

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December 29, 2011

An Isle Of Mann-registered ship was detained by authorities in Finland last week for smuggling missiles and explosives out of the country.

The vessel was stopped and the local bomb squad called in when officials at the port of Kotka found sixty nine Patriot defense missiles and 150 tonnes of general explosives on board.  According to Petri Lounatmaa a Finnish Customs spokesman, investigating officers did not know the origin of the missiles or who was supposed to receive them.   “We have impounded the explosives and missiles and asked the Defense Ministry to transport and store them.”  Mr. Lounatmaa told the New York Times.

Alarms sounded in the port shortly after dock workers discovered explosive material stored on open pallets which lead police to conduct a search of the ship’s cargo containers. What they found shocked them. Inside containers labeled and manifested as “fireworks” where highly sophisticated Patriot defense missiles.

Initial evidence suggests that the missiles might have originated from an official shipment of missiles from Germany to South Korea but the facts remain unclear. Also unclear is the port of destination. The vessel’s managers, Greenstar Steamship Company of Germany, where not available for comment.

Finland says that the ship and her Ukrainian crew are now free to leave, following an operation to repack the explosives safely in metal containers.  The missiles and the both the ship’s captain and first mate are being held in custody however until further evidence is collected.

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