Chinese ship’s anchor caused damage to Baltic Sea gas pipeline, Finland suggests

Oct. 30, 2023
Newnew Polar Bear vessel is responsible for the damage, says Finland’s National Bureau of Investigation.

Bruce Beaubouef * Managing Editor  

TIKKURILA, Vantaa, Finland – A dislodged anchor from a Chinese cargo vessel is believed to have caused damage to the Balticconnector gas pipeline and two communication cables between Finland and Estonia, prompting an investigation involving the ship Newnew Polar Bear and a seabed trail.

The Hong Kong-flagged cargo vessel Newnew Polar Bear is responsible for the damage that occurred to the undersea Balticconnector pipeline spanning the Gulf of Finland, said Finland’s National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), citing evidence and data.

Investigators said the Finnish navy has retrieved an anchor from the location where the pipeline ruptured on Oct. 8, and they were investigating whether it belonged to the Chinese vessel.

A 1.5 to 4-meter wide seabed trail, leading to the point where the pipeline was broken, was likely caused by the dislodged six-tonne anchor.

“There are traces in the [anchor] which indicate that it has been in contact with the gas pipeline,” said Detective Superintendent Risto Lohi, who is heading the NBI investigation. Suspicions are reported to have been strengthened by recent photos which allegedly show that the vessel is now missing one of its anchors.

Officials said that establishing if the damage was intentional, unintentional, or due to “bad seafaring” would be the focus of the next phase of the probe.

Some reports describe the Newnew Polar Bear as being “on the run.” According to the Barents Observer, the Newnew Polar Bear is set to sail through the Kara Sea and make it through the icy strait of Vilkitsky. Escorted by a Russian state-owned icebreaker, it will subsequently sail eastwards along the North Siberian coast towards the Bering Strait and into Pacific waters.