Finnish officials say they have impounded a ship travelling from the Isle of Man to China with undeclared missiles on board.
Crew are being questioned by police after 69 Patriot anti-missile weapons were apparently discovered in containers marked ‘fireworks’ when the MS Thor Liberty docked in the port of Kotka last week.
Speaking to AFP, Thomas Mikkelsen, the managing director of Thorco Shipping, said he was unaware his boat was carrying the dangerous cargo. Another anonymous company official said the explosives may have been loaded onto the boat by mistake, but police did not confirm a Reuters report that claimed it had been scheduled to stop in South Korea.
According to Petri Lounatmaa, a Finnish Customs spokesman, the ship was due to dock for two days in Kotka after leaving Germany on 13th December. The vessel was eventually bound for Shanghai, but it is not clear where the military cargo was destined to go.
“Actually in our investigation at the moment, we have got the information that we found 69 Patriot missiles on the ship and around 160 tonnes of explosives,” Detective Superintendent Timo Virtanen from the Finnish National Bureau of Investigation, said in a BBC report.
Interior Minister Paivi Rasanen said this case is one-of-a-kind. “Of course, there are legal transports of weapons or defence material [through Finland] but in this case the cargo was marked as containing fireworks,” she told Finnish media. “That is quite unusual.”
The missiles are from US company Raytheon, which supplies weapons to the “US and allied forces”. South Korea is among the states which deploy such explosives.