Wednesday, 21 December 2011
A British cargo vessel detained at Kotka harbour has been found to be carrying a shipment of American-made Patriot missiles.
According to information received by YLE, the missile shipment originated in Germany and is destined for South Korea. Onboard the ship are 69 of the missiles with their explosive warheads and propelling charges.
The National Bureau of Investigation confirmed Wednesday afternoon that the missiles are onboard the ship.
Both the missiles and a cargo of explosives were en route from Germany to South Korea. According to press reports, the ship made port in Finland to pick up a consignment of anchor chain for delivery to China.
Officials stopped the M/S Thor Liberty last week as its cargo of explosives had been stored incorrectly. The ship is carrying 150 tonnes of the explosive nitroguanidine. The material is in 25 kg packages some of which was found to be damaged. Because of the characteristics of nitroguanidine, the material should be carried in shipping containers.
In the course of inspection, it was also found that the cargo included a shipment of military missiles.
An investigation was launched and it was determined that while not contraband, the proper transit permits for the shipment are inadequate or missing.
The National Bureau of Investigation and Finnish Customs are jointly investigating the incident as a case of export violations and violations of martime safety regulations. The captain and first mate of the Ukranian crew are to be questioned as suspects.
The explosives onboard are to be re-packed in transport containers on Friday. The Patriot missiles are being impounded and Customs has requested assistance from the Defense Forces in storing the missiles until their origin and destination can be confirmed.
News Source Yle, Finland