Finnish National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said that it believes a dislodged anchor from the Hong Kong-flagged container ship Newnew Polar Bear caused damage to the Balticconnector gas pipeline between Finland and Estonia.
The NBI said that it has evidence and data pointing to the Newnew Polar Bear as the culprit, including:
A large anchor was recovered from the location where the pipeline was damaged. The anchor is missing one of its prongs and weighs 6 tonnes.
Drag marks were found on the seabed leading to the point where the pipeline was broken. These marks are consistent with those that would be made by a large anchor dragging across the seabed.
The Newnew Polar Bear was in the area of the pipeline damage at the time of the incident.
The NBI is continuing its investigation to determine whether the damage was deliberate. If it was, the Newnew Polar Bear could face criminal charges.
The Balticconnector gas pipeline is a vital link between Finland and the European gas network. The damage to the pipeline has caused disruptions to gas supplies in Finland, and repairs are expected to take at least until April 2024.
The NBI’s findings have been met with concern in Finland and Estonia. Some experts have warned that the incident could damage Finland’s reputation as a reliable energy partner. Others have called for stricter regulations to be imposed on shipping in the Baltic Sea.