Tanker detained over alleged North Korean transfers

Cambodian police detain Chinese tanker. Credit: Cambodian Police Force

Cambodian authorities have detained a Chinese tanker and its 16 crew members on suspicions that the vessel engaged in ship-to-ship transfers with North Korean entities.

A statement issued by Cambodia’s General Commissariat of National Police said that the 1987-built 3,912-dwt Courageous was detained after arriving in Cambodian waters on 26 February 2020.

IHS Markit data indicates that since July 2019, Courageous has been owned by New Eastern Shipping, a Chinese-registered company. However, New Eastern Shipping’s contact details could not be traced. 

IHS Markit’s vessel tracking data shows that Courageous had been anchored in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, going back to at least 2018. The data shows that Courageous left Kaohsiung on 15 February.

While China is North Korea’s only ally and economic support, Cambodia and several countries have been clamping down on North Korean-linked activities, in order to comply with sanctions that the UN had imposed to penalise North Korea’s nuclear proliferation.

The Cambodian police said that Courageous has been taken to the port of Sihanoukville. “The ship has been used to violate UN Security Council Resolutions 2375 and 2397 adopted in September 2017,” the statement added.

While IHS Markit data lists Courageous as being Cameroon-flagged, photos released by the Cambodian police show the vessel flying the Cambodian flag.