Using the latest tracking technology, investigation and data from Marine Traffic, NK News now provides information on DPRK ship movements.
The current range of the tracking is currently limited to coastal regions, which is the predominant reason why no ships (DPRK or otherwise) are currently visible in the Yellow Sea immediately to the West of North Korea, however an upcoming upgrade to satellite tracking should alleviate this.
Though North Korean fleet behavior has likely changed since the advent of commercially available tracking methods, following ship movements still presents a useful data set in which to search for anomalous activities.
For example, one of the lines of evidence leading to the much-publicized seizure of the Chong Chon Gang was its erratic positional data as it moved through the Panama Canal. As can be seen above, the vessel’s last transmission placed it still sitting in Limon Bay, on the Atlantic side of the canal.
Also being tracked are ships that regularly service North Korean ports and those belonging to companies that are known to trade with North Korea. Many fly flags from Sierra Leone, Panama and other countries that might, at first glance, seem to be rather far from home. Such vessels are very likely taking advantage of shipping law and flying Flags of Convenience (FOCs), meaning they can sail under flags that do not correspond to the countries in which their management companies are based.
Vessels flying under FOCs are also known to account for a disproportionally large number of destabilizing activities.
It’s very likely that some North Korean vessels also use FOCs, meaning that the potential exists for DPRK ships to obfuscate their origins. Seeing as the global shipping industry must and does force at least some transparency on its participants, methods like these likely represent a good avenue for illicit behavior. All DPRK vessels flying under FOCs are listed in the UN’s Security Council Panel of Expert reports are tracked in the graphic above, as are the ships listed in 2016’s Resolution 2270.
For further information or questions, please contact Leo Byrne: [email protected]
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