Shock revelation: Chinese vessel’s role in Baltic gas pipe disaster
Amid the shadow of a possible Russian intervention and the suspicion of Ukrainian sabotage, a stunning third hypothesis emerges: the involvement of a Chinese vessel, likely due to an unintended and risky maneuver. The mystery behind the breakdown that disabled the Baltic Connector submarine gas pipeline, a critical infrastructure linking Finland and Estonia, remains unresolved. However, Finnish authorities have made significant progress in their ongoing investigation, potentially identifying the cause of the incident.
The Chinese vessel theory
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), a branch of the Finnish police, claims to possess evidence and data indicating that the responsible party for the Baltic Connector damage coincides with the cargo ship ‘Newnew Polar Bear’, bearing the flag of Hong Kong. Superintendent Risto Lohi, head of the NBI’s investigative team, declared that during their underwater searches, they discovered a drag trail measuring 1.5 to 4 meters wide that leads to the point of damage on the gas pipeline.
This trail is believed to have been caused by a 6-ton anchor retrieved by the Finnish Navy, which belonged to the aforementioned Newnew Polar Bear. Lohi stated, “There are traces (on the anchor) indicating that it came into contact with the gas pipeline.” Furthermore, the route and positioning of the Chinese vessel in the Baltic Sea aligned with the time and location of the pipeline failure. Whether the incident was intentional, unintentional, or the result of “navigational error” will be the focus of the next phase of the investigation, as explained by Helsinki.
Hence, Finland’s suspicions now fall upon the vessel, Newnew Polar Bear. Recent photos published by the ship, which made a stopover in the port of St. Petersburg in Russia during its journey in the Baltic Sea, reveal the absence of one of its anchors. According to the Marine Traffic website, the vessel is currently navigating in northern Russian waters en route to China through the Northern Sea Route. Finnish investigators have claimed to have attempted multiple times to contact the ship’s captain without success. As reported by the Associated Press, they are now cooperating with Chinese authorities to resolve the case.
A spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that Beijing has requested an “objective, fair, and professional” investigation into the Baltic Connector damage, emphasizing that the suspected Chinese ship causing the damage was “navigating normally” at the time of the incident.
The Northern Route
The Newnew Polar, measuring 169 meters in length and equipped with a reinforced hull to navigate icy waters, recently departed from the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad. Last July, it set sail for a six-week journey using the Northern Route, passing beneath the Arctic, the same route that Russia and China might use to enhance their trade, and one that Beijing could consider for stable access to European markets. While the details of the incident remain unclear, the repairs to the Baltic Connector are expected to take at least six months.