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Video: Sanctioned North Korean Freighter Sinks Off Japan

japan coast guard
The Chong Bong going under, May 22 (Japan Coast Guard)

Published May 24, 2021 3:35 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Saturday, the North Korean freighter Chong Bong went down in the Sea of Japan, one day after she reported flooding. 

The vessel's crew made a distress call to Japanese search and rescue authorities at about 1100 hours Friday, reporting that she had sustained flooding in her cargo holds. As the situation worsened, the crew abandoned ship into their lifeboats, and they were rescued by a small North Korean tanker after five hours adrift. The vessel sank on Saturday afternoon at a position about 30 nm to the northeast of Japan's Oki Islands.

No missing personnel or injuries were reported, but Japanese officials said that a miles-long fuel oil slick was spotted in the vicinity of the sinking. It is not yet known whether any of the fuel will reach Japan's coast.

Officials said that at the time of the casualty, the 1989-built Chong Bong was carrying a load of iron ore on a coastwise voyage from the port of Chongjin on the Sea of Japan to the port of Songnim, located on North Korea's Yellow Sea coast.

The U.S. Treasury Department has previously identified the vessel as a suspected participant in North Korea's efforts to circumvent UN sanctions, transporting "disguised" North Korean coal. Chong Bong is on the agency's list of specially designated nationals (more commonly known as its sanctions list or blacklist) in connection with violation of North Korean sanctions violations.