Japan identifies pair of vessels in North Korean fuel transfer

The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said that it had identified another foreign vessel suspected of conducting banned ship-to-ship petroleum transfers with North Korean tankers.

In mid-November The Japan Maritime “Self-Defence Force” destroyer escort Sendai encountered potential sanctions violation activity in the East China Sea earlier this month. Before dawn on November 13th, the Sendai’s crew observed North Korean-flagged tanker Mu Bong 1 (IMO 8610461) alongside a small vessel of unknown nationality, on the high seas about 150nm off Shanghai, China. The smaller vessel appeared to have its identifying markings obscured by a sheet or tarpaulin over the stern. The two vessels were connected by hoses.

“Following a comprehensive assessment, the Government of Japan strongly suspects that they conducted ship-to-ship transfers banned by United Nations Security Council Resolution,” the ministry said. “Japan notified the Security Council Committee (Panel of Experts) of this incident and shared information with related countries.”

Although the UN and the US have designated dozens of vessels and entities in connection with alleged violations of these sanctions, the Mu Bong 1 has not been included specifically in the US list.