We received a report yesterday indicating that the Mu Du Bong, the North Korean merchant ship that disappeared from commercial tracking after entering the gulf of Mexico then reappeared in Cuba has grounded off of a Mexican reef 11 miles, ( 1 mile inside Mexican Territorial limits) from the Mexican Shore line. Later we received reports that the ship was found to be empty and in badly deteriorated condition. According to the later reports the 130-meter (430 ft) Mu Du Bong grounded to a stand still about 11k ( 6 miles) from the Mexican port of Tuxpan. Previously we reported the ship's position as 11 miles out from the Mexican coast. We believe the 6 mile or 11 K position from the specific port of Tuxpan is probably more accurate. In either case both positions would have been within Mexico's territorial sea where nations exercise exclusive and complete control over shipping. Apparently though described as a "rust bucket" it is afloat and not holed. Mexican maritime authorities indicate the task of pulling it off the reef would be complicated and take several days. The ship found to be empty claims it was inbound to pick up a load of sugar.
We found it difficult to believe that Mexican authorities paid so little attention to this vessel before it became grounded and an environmental hazard. After departing Cuba she loitered off the Mexican coast in the manner of a "hoovering vessel" recognized as a suspicious move under international law and considered "probable cause " for a boarding within a nation's "contiguous Customs enforcement zone" which extends outward from the 12 mile territorial sea. Within this zone adjacent coastal states may board vessels for "probable cause" where the intent to violate customs laws is suspected. (for a complete description of concepts like the territorial sea, the contiguous zone, and the exclusive economic zone see our free E-book THE ENDURING PRINCIPLES OF MARITIME INTERNATIONAL LAW in our AUTHORITATIVE LITERATURE SECTION
Previously we speculated that the MU DU BONG might be involved in arms smuggling, including acting as a distraction. She certainly didn't proceed into Tuxpan like a commercial ship interested in a profitable voyage. We wonder how carefully Mexico is going to check out that supposed sugar cargo. A Forbes report indicated shipping records showed the MU DU BONG and the already convicted arms smuggler CHONG CHON GANG shared the same commercial agent, Ocean Maritime Management Company. UN reports concerning the Chong Chon Gang incident said that company "played a key role in arranging the shipment of the concealed cargo of arms". Something is going on with North Korean merchant shipping in the Gulf of Mexico that is so obvious that organizations like our own, which are neither governmental, nor journalistic per se ; but monitor maritime data and events can't help but notice. We have to believe that U.S. Coast Guard and Naval Intelligence know more than we do. But we can't escape the impression that nothing is actually being done to stop the operations which may be funneling arms to terrorists who are busy even as we write killing people who disagree with them; or fail to help them.
TERRORISM and COUNTER TERRORISM BOOK SHELF
KOREAN BOOK SHELF