While media reports have placed Russian oil tanker SGV Float near the Balticconnector natural gas pipeline when the latter developed a leak, data from the Marine Traffic website suggests Chinese container ship Newnew Polar Bear was a lot closer to the pipeline's location at around the same time.
Information available to Estonian daily Postimees suggests that the fact that a vessel sailing under the Hong Kong flag but belonging to China was in the vicinity of the Balticconnector pipeline at the time seismic activity was recorded in the area is why Estonian authorities have been so slow to voice concrete suspicions. The information is so politically and diplomatically sensitive that they want to make absolutely sure first.
Estonia has not approached China for comment on the diplomatic level as there is nothing to ask without official suspicions.
Container ship Newnew Polar Bear was returning from Shanghai with a stop in Kaliningrad on its way to Saint Petersburg which it reached on the evening of October 8. While the ship had maintained a steady speed of 11 knots for some time, it started slowing down when it neared the location of the Balticconnector – at around 1:19 a.m. Estonian time – to 9.5 knots before returning to its cruising speed of a little over 11 knots at around 1:24 a.m. The ship slowed just as it was crossing the pipeline, the newspaper reports.
Editor: Mirjam Mäekivi, Marcus Turovski