The Finnish Border Guard’s maritime rescue centre in Helsinki received a distress call on Thursday afternoon saying that a freighter had sprung a leak off the south coast. At the time, the Panamanian-flagged ship was in international waters in the Gulf of Finland, just west of the Russian island of Hogland. Crew members reported that there was water about five metres deep in the engine room.
The ship would not be in danger of sinking even if the entire compartment were to fill with water, the Border Guard said in a statement. The vessel has a crew of 22, who are in no immediate danger, it says.
The Border Guard said that the situation was now stable and that the ship's owner is looking into having the vessel towed to port.
Crew members say that the engine room is firmly sealed so that water cannot spread into other parts of the ship. As of late afternoon, there was no suspicion that the freighter had run aground.
The Border Guard says it is ready to evacuate the ship quickly if needed. It has summoned the nearest available assistance vessel, the Arctia company’s Nordica icebreaker as well as its own guard vessel Tursas and a maritime rescue helicopter.
The island of Hogland (known in Finnish as Suursaari) lies some 35 km south of Kotka in the Gulf of Finland. It was part of Finland until the Second World War, when it became part of the Soviet Union.