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Lithuanian Navy Monitors the Sea After a Container Ship Damaged the Pipes and Ran to International Waters

In response to recent disruptions to a gas pipeline and telecom cable between Finland and Estonia in the Baltic Sea, the Lithuanian Navy has deployed a minesweeper to monitor the NordBalt electricity link. The cable has been confirmed as secure.

The vessel in the Baltic Sea is monitoring ship activity in the area, including the Būtingė oil terminal, and maintaining communication with NATO. The Naval Forces commander stressed the importance of ongoing efforts to minimize risks to underwater infrastructure.

The Lithuanian Navy is currently testing equipment, including sonar systems and robots, to enhance their monitoring capabilities. Additionally, a sonar system that can identify underwater threats up to 50 meters deep has been introduced to ensure the safety of Klaipėda’s port and infrastructure.

Recent incidents in the Baltic Sea included damage to the gas pipeline by a Chinese container ship’s anchor, causing a suspension in gas supply. It was also discovered that a communication cable linking Finland and Estonia had been damaged. Helsinki suggested that external factors likely caused the incidents.

What happened?

The Chinese container ship “Newnew Polar Bear” is suspected of damaging a gas pipeline and communication cable in the Baltic Sea between Estonia and Finland, as well as a cable connecting Estonia and Finland. However, it has now changed its operator, received a special permit, and is accompanied by a Russian icebreaker to sail along the Northern Sea Route, according to “The Barents Observer.” On October 25, the ship departed from the Russian port of Arkhangelsk and headed into the Arctic waters, passing through the Kara Sea and the Vilkitsky Strait this week, before turning towards Siberia, and ultimately reaching the Pacific Ocean via the Northern Sea Route. Prior to its departure, the ship obtained a new permit for the Northern Sea Route, as the previous one was only valid until October 31.

The new permit indicates a change in the ship’s operator, with the previous operator being “Hainan Xin Xin Yang Shipping Co, Ltd,” and the current operator being the Russian-registered company “Torgmoll,” specializing in shipping between Chinese and European ports. Finland’s national investigative bureau has clear evidence that this ship is responsible for the damage to underwater cable infrastructure in the Baltic Sea on October 8, and Finnish authorities believe it damaged the gas pipeline and cables by dragging an anchor. Finland was prepared to arrest the ship if it had entered its waters, but it is currently in international waters. Helsinki has initiated contact with Chinese authorities in hopes of resolving this issue.