On Sunday morning, another batch of 18 cannon howitzers manufactured in Korea for the Polish army arrived in the port of Gdynia on board the small multipurpose ship Baikal Fin. Owned by German shipowner Baikal Fin, it is a brand new ship – the transport of military equipment from the Korean port of Masan to Gdynia was its first commercial voyage.
After several shipments of Korean-made howitzers, tanks and rocket launchers ordered for the Polish army, which have already taken place, it is clear that the Koreans have not concluded any framework agreement with a single carrier. Suppliers of military equipment (either themselves or through a freight forwarder) charter ships separately for each consecutive shipment or commission the transport of their products for Poland, so consecutive batches of Korean-made armaments reach us on vessels of different shipowners (only in some of the – so far few – recurring cases).
Earlier, we reported that some shipments of Korean combat vehicles for Poland had been carried out by ships in technical conditions rather distant from impeccable.
This time, however, another batch of Korean howitzers arrived in Poland in a brand new ship – straight from the shipyard, which happened to be German again (as in most cases of Korean arms deliveries to Poland to date).
The latest delivery, 18 armoured howitzers described by the Koreans as K9PL type, produced for the Polish army at the Korean armaments concern Hanwha Aerospace, was made by the small, barely 90-metre-long ship Baikal Fin (IMO No. 9954008; GT 2518; carrying capacity 3850 t).
It is a multipurpose general cargo vessel owned by German shipowner Blue Fin Shipping GmbH & Co KG and commercially managed by Baltic Shipping Company A/S of Denmark.
She was built by the Chinese yard of the Dutch Damen Group – Damen Shipyards Yichang Co Ltd, Yichang (yard construction number 559028). She is already the seventh Damen Combi Freighter 3850 type vessel to be included in the Blue Fin Shipping fleet. This type of vessel is said to be a fuel-efficient cargo ‘workhorse’, known in the market for its quality workmanship, successful, thoughtful design, flexibility in loading and reliability in operation.
Brave little ship on a long ocean voyage
The ship Baikal Fin, carrying cannon howitzers for the Polish army, travelled almost 11,600 nautical miles in 55 days (7 weeks and six days). The combat vehicles were loaded by a quayside crane on board the small multipurpose ship Baikal Fin during its approximately 35-hour layover in the port of Masan on 23-24 October 2023. The vessel arrived there straight from the Chinese shipyard, which it left on 21 October this year.
On November 3-4, Baikal Fin passed Singapore, in whose waters it stopped for a few hours to take on fuel from a bunker ship and crossed the Strait of Malacca. On 19-20 November, it proceeded safely through waters where Huti rebels have recently been carrying out terrorist or pirate activities, while on 25 November, the ship with armaments for the Polish army passed through the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean, before accepting fuel at the Total terminal jetty at Algeciras near Gibraltar on 7 December, and then, on 13 December, it crossed the Strait of Calais before passing through the Kiel Canal at night and in the morning on 15 December.
The ship checked in at the roadstead of the Port of Gdynia on Sunday morning, 17 December, at around 7:00 a.m. and was immediately ‘on the run’ and introduced into the port. It docked at the United States Wharf. It turned out, however, that this was only a temporary stop because, at around noon, Baikal Fin was scheduled to be towed to Hel quay (to the Baltic Container Terminal – BCT), where the previously larger deliveries of Korean military equipment to Poland took place.