Sanctions: North Korean Tanker Transmitting as Fishing Vessel

Credit: Royal Navy
Credit: Royal Navy

Published Apr 8, 2019 8:40 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Royal Navy frigate HMS Montrose has tracked an illegal fuel transfer at sea while conducting United Nations sanctions enforcement against North Korea.

The North Korean-flagged tanker Saebyol, which was transmitting on ship tracking systems as a fishing boat, was spotted alongside a vessel of unknown nationality on the high seas, conducting a prohibited ship-to-ship transfer. The activity was spotted in the early hours of March 2 in the East China Sea and has now been reported to the U.N.

HMS Montrose is the fourth vessel to take part in enforcing sanctions against North Korea since the start of last year, after HMS Sutherland, HMS Albion and HMS Argyll deployed in 2018. In May last year, HMS Sutherland crew observed and reported a Panama-flagged vessel conducting a prohibited ship-to-ship transfer with a North Korean-flagged vessel. This resulted in the Panamanian vessel being designated by the U.N., deflagged and banned from port entry.

Separately, a South Korean vessel was impounded earlier this month for allegedly providing petroleum products to North Korea in violation of sanctions. The small bunkering tanker P-Pioneer has been detained at the port of Busan since last October on charges that she engaged in two ship-to-ship transfers of diesel with two North Korean vessels, the Kum Un San and the Yu Son. The two transfers allegedly occured in September 2017 in the international waters of the East China Sea, the primary hot spot for North Korean ship-to-ship smuggling activity.