The Curious Case of the Ship Banned From Every Port in the World

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The United Nations has banned the Hao Fan 6 from entering every port in the world. The ship is accused of violating sanctions against North Korea. Just what it was carrying remains a mystery, but the ship has been behaving strangely. One of the stranger details is that the ship keeps shuting off its transponder and disappearing.

CNN put together a long history of the ship’s history. The Hao Fan 6 and three others have been hit with the restrictions.

“The Jie Shun, one of the four banned ships, was caught by Egyptian authorities smuggling thousands of North Korean rocket-propelled grenades in 2016,” CNN writes. “Panamanian authorities detained the Chon Chon Gang in 2013 after finding MiG fighter jets, anti-aircraft systems and explosives hidden under bags of sugar.”

The UN has cracked down on North Korea’s ability to export raw materials, something the nation has relied upon for decades.

Some of the ships are not North Korean, but are still dealing with the regime. “The US Treasury Department has gone even further than the UN,” CNN notes, “sanctioning 59 vessels for their dealings with North Korea. But independent North Korea watchers have identified as many as 180 ships connected to the hermit state, which begs the question: How many North Korean ships like the Hao Fan 6 are still roaming the high seas, bringing in cash for the Kim regime?”

One of the ways that those paying attention know that the Hao Fan 6 is breaking rules is by tracking its transponder. The ship’s crew has been shutting off the device while it is moving, and cutting it back on when it nears approved destinations. The result is a tracking pattern that appears to take the ship over land.

North Korean coal has been a staple for China. The proximity of the production means shipping costs are low, and the Chinese have an economy that runs on coal.

Even though the Hao Fan 6 is registered in Hong Kong, it appears the ship is willing to risk UN scrutiny to make its shipments.

Trendy Sunshine Hong Kong Limited is listed as the owner of the ship. When CNN’s investigative team went looking for Trendy Sunshine in Hong Kong, they found SBC International at the company’s address.

“SBC International’s website says its staff of more than 400 service more than 400,000 clients,” CNN writes. “It has offices in Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Beijing, Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Nanjing.”

The ship now appears to be circling off the coast of China. It is unclear where it will be able to dock.