North Korea’s Mystery Ship, Hao Fan 6

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via Wikimedia Commons

a North Korean cargo ship

On October 10, 2017, a cargo ship called the Hao Fan 6 was banned from every single port across the entire world after violating several laws in North Korea. The Hao Fan 6 was under South Korean control and was being tracked by Marine Traffic. It was continuously pinging on their radar until 11:17 p.m. when the dot disappeared. This 460 foot (140 meters) ship hasn’t been seen since.

The Hao Fan 6 is one of the four ships that have been globally banned from any ports. In 2016, Egyptian authorities caught North Koreans smuggling thirty-thousand rocket-propelled grenades in another ship called the Jie Shun, which has also been banned from all ports around the world. Also in 2016, Panamanian authorities caught another ship called the Chon Chon Gang hiding two-hundred and forty metric tons of explosives under bags of sugar. In addition, nine missiles, MiG fighter jets with fifteen motors that are for that plane, and 2 anti-aircraft missile systems were found. “You have the UN taking action against this vessel (the Hao Fan 6), saying that it’s been engaged in this unacceptable behavior on behalf of North Korea, and at the same time there are two other vessels controlled by the same people that are still active,” Jessica Knight, the director of analysis at Sayari Analytics stated.

If the Hao Fen 6 was carrying coal, the ship would have been in violation of UN regulations passed in March last year. North Korea has been stricken with many sanctions after the news of their missiles and nuclear programs. Sanctions are made to punish secretive systems or plans like missile launches and access to an abundance of illegal coal and oil. Usually, ships turn off their radar if they are being threatened or feel the need for privacy for a short amount of time or a maximum of 1 day. Surprisingly, the Hao Fen turned its radar off for several days at a time. Its radar was turned on for a little while on October 17 when in Lanshan (a coastal city in China which has a coal terminal). Then, three days later, it was spotted back on North Korea’s coast and reporters think that the Hao Fen 6 was transporting coal. Transporting coal would have violated a UN Council law passed on March 2, 2016. This law is about the sanctions of not carrying any weapons or things that can support biochemical or nuclear weapons on cargo ships.

Almost a month after the Hao Fan 6’s radar turned on, the Hao Fan 6 was tracked hundreds and hundreds of miles away from it’s last known location. Then it started going in circles and it didn’t stop for weeks. With nowhere to go, banned from all the ports in the world, the Hao Fan 6 is still going in circles.