(Bloomberg) -- A Vietnamese tanker tracked earlier this year in North Korea was seized by Malaysian authorities last week after it was found anchored without authorization just off the coast of Johor, maritime agency officials said.
Washington-based think tank the Center for Advanced Defense Studies, along with Seoul-based NK News, jointly tracked the 5,000 ton tanker as it arrived in North Korea heading for its primary oil handling facility on the country’s west coast in February. News of its arrival came a day before U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met for their second summit in Hanoi to discuss denuclearization and removing sanctions.
“This is unusual for a vessel that has been publicly identified for engaging in North Korea sanctions evasion,” Lucas Kuo of C4ADS, who helped identify the vessel’s suspicious docking in North Korea, told NK News.
The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency wrote on its Facebook page Sunday that it approached the VIET TIN 01 the day before after it drifted 4.6 nautical miles south of Cape Peninsula into unauthorized waters. While the agency thought the ship had been abandoned, an inspection revealed its chief engineer on board.
Authorities “attempted to contact the tanker via radio and speakers, but no response was received and the vessel was suspected to have been abandoned,” Johor Maritime Director and First Admiral Aminuddin bin Haji Abdul Rashid, said in a statement.
“Johor Maritime Marines in collaboration with the Malaysian Navy are working to move the tanker to a safe location,” the statement continues. “The tanker with the chief engineer was detained for further investigation.”
According to the Center for Advanced Defense Studies, the ship appears to have been anchored in Malaysia since July.
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