On the morning of March 9, the North Korean freighter Kum San went down near Lianyuanhang, China after striking a product tanker.
All 27 crewmembers of the 8,600 dwt Kum San were rescued by the tanker, which was not significantly damaged. The cause of the collision is not yet clear, but online records suggest that the Kum San had turned off her AIS transponder prior to the incident, NK News reports.
The 1977-built Kum San (IMO 7418373) was operated by a North Korean firm of the same name and was flagged in the DPRK. Her latest port state control inspection was at Weihai in 2015, and it found numerous deficiencies, including problems with her liferafts, steering gear, hatches and structural condition. Significant corrosion was found in her beams, frames and floors. She was not included on the U.N. Security Council's sanctions blacklist, which affects vessels operated by Ocean Maritime Management, a company linked to North Korea’s arms smuggling program.
The Kum San's sinking was the second major casualty involving a North Korean vessel this year, following the loss of the freighter Chong Gen off Japan in January. The Chong Gen was on a voyage around the Korean Peninsula when she began to take on water, and her crew were rescued by the Japan Coast Guard before she capsized. No fatalities or injuries were reported.