Something’s Fishy: Iranian Oil Tanker On Fire in Ocean 160 Miles from Shanghai – Was it Headed to North Korea?

Guest post by Joe Hoft

An Iranian Oil Tanker on its way to Korea was in a collision with a US container ship off the coast of China.  The tanker is now on fire and all but one of its Iranian crew are missing.  Was this ship really bringing its cargo to North Korea like two other tankers identified in recent weeks?

The Guardian is reporting that –

The body of one sailor had been found and 31 others were missing after an Iranian-owned tanker collided with a container ship about 160 nautical miles east of Shanghai on Saturday evening. The Sanchi was carrying 136,000 tonnes of light crude oil or about 1m barrels.

The Guardian continued –

Chinese authorities were investigating the cause of the crash. The Sanchi, a Panamanian-flagged vessel owned by the National Iranian Tanker Company, was sailing to South Korea from Iran when it collided with a Hong Kong-flagged cargo ship, the CF Crystal, carrying 64,000 tonnes of grain. The Crystal’s 21 Chinese crew were rescued.

This is not the first oil tanker in recent weeks making the news near North Korea.  In late December the New York Times reported that –

South Korea has seized a Hong Kong-flagged oil tanker accused of transferring 600 tons of refined oil to a North Korean ship in October in violation of United Nations sanctions, South Korean officials said on Friday.

The Times mentioned that this ship was registered to a Hong Kong company whose only director was reported as living in Guangzhou, China. In addition the Times reported that the ship –

The Lighthouse Winmore docked at the South Korean port of Yeosu on Oct. 11 to load 14,039 tons of refined petroleum from Japan, they said. Four days later, it departed Yeosu, saying it was headed for Taiwan. Instead, it transferred the refined oil to four other ships in international waters, including 600 tons transferred to the North Korean ship Sam Jong 2 on Oct. 19, officials said.

A similar ship-to-ship transfer involving another North Korean ship, Rye Song Gang 1, was captured in satellite photos released by the United States Treasury Department on Nov. 21, although the department did not release the name of the other ship involved in the high-seas transaction.

Was this Iranian vessel a third tanker that was really on route to deliver oil to North Korea?  This sure looks fishy.



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