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Investigation of the possible attack on the Balticconnector gas line continues. Lehtikuva/HEIKKI SAUKKOMAA via REUTERS

The commanding officer of the Finnish Navy Toni Joutsia (L to R), lieutenant commander of the Finnish Border Guard Markus Paljakka, the detective inspector of the National Bureau of Investigation Risto Lohi and the Chief of National Bureau of Investigation Robin Lardot during the joint press conference of the investigation of the possible attack on the Balticconnector gas line on 8th Oct., 2023 between Finland and Estonia at the headquarters of the National Bureau of Investigation in Vantaa, Finland, 24 October 2023. Lehtikuva/HEIKKI SAUKKOMAA via REUTERS

Finland Demands Investigators On Vessel That Broke Gas Pipeline

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December 3, 2023

By Kati Pohjanpalo

(Bloomberg) –Finland will demand its investigators be allowed on board the NewNew Polar Bear, a Hong Kong-flagged vessel whose anchor ripped up a subsea gas pipeline near Finnish waters in October, President Sauli Niinisto said.

It remains unclear whether the ship dragged its anchor for hundreds of kilometers “intentionally or as a result of extremely poor seamanship,” he told public broadcaster YLE TV1 in an interview Saturday.

More will be known when the vessel arrives in China and the captain can be questioned, Niinisto said. “We hope, and actually require, that Finnish investigators be involved.”

Authorities in the newest member of the NATO defense alliance are working to ascertain what happened to the interconnector in the Gulf of Finland that began leaking Oct. 8. They’ve linked the damage to Newnew Polar Bear, whose registered owner is Hainan Xin Xin Yang Shipping. Its beneficial owner is Ledoco International Logistics, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

The vessel is currently near the Korean peninsula on its way toward Tianjin in China, having sailed through Russia’s arctic, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Read Also: Finnish Authorities Focus on Ships Near Damaged Pipeline

Investigators have discovered hundreds of kilometers of drag marks, as wide as 4 meters (13 feet), on the seabed where the 77-kilometer Balticconnector gas pipeline linking Finland and Estonia was breached. The pipeline has moved eastward on the seafloor. Three data cables on the bottom of the sea were also damaged, including one belonging to Russia.

The cargo ship sailed over the pipeline on Oct. 8 on its way to St. Petersburg and left the Russian city on Oct. 10, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The vessel only called at Russian ports while in Europe in September and October, the data show. 

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization responded by increasing patrols in the Baltic Sea, dispatching aircraft and minehunters to the area. The Joint Expeditionary Force, a grouping of 10 northern European nations this week also agreed to deploy vessels and planes across the region to protect critical undersea infrastructure.

© 2023 Bloomberg L.P.

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