Posted on July 16, 2014, 2:02 am
North Korean general cargo vessel Mu Du Bong grounded off Mexican port of Tuxpan, Gulf of Mexico, on July 14, reported Reuters. Officials said refloating may take several days. Vessel in ballast was to call Tuxpan port, presumably for taking shipment of sugar, as Tuxpan is one of the main Mexico’s sugar export ports. Such a trivial accident attracted a lot of attention from major media, because the behaviour of North Korean is similar to that of another North Korean freighter, caught with arms on board by Panama authorities last year. Some 240 tons of Cuban weapons and military gear were found hidden under 220,000 of sacks of sugar in holds of Chong Chon Gang. Mu Du Bong left Havana on July 10, according to AIS.
General cargo vessel Mu Du Bong, IMO 8328197, dwt 9851, built 1983, flag North Korea, manager TAEDONGGANG SONBAK CO LTD, Pyongyang
It’s not often that North Korean-flagged freighters turn up near America’s shores, but when they do, they deserve attention. North Korea has a prolific record of arms smuggling, narcotics dealing, counterfeiting, terrorist ties and missile and nuclear proliferation. So, let’s hope U.S. authorities are keeping a close eye on a North Korean cargo ship called the Mu Du Bong, which late last month called at Cuba, then vanished from the commercial shipping grid for more than a week. This past Thursday, July 10, the Mu Du Bong reappeared at Havana, then began steaming north of Cuba, and as of this writing is cruising the Gulf of Mexico, not all that far from the Mexican port of Tampico — or for that matter, the coast of Texas.
The Mu Du Bong’s mission could be entirely legitimate. But its behavior bears some disturbing similarities to last year’s voyage of another North Korean freighter, the Chong Chon Gang, which last summer sailed into the Caribbean, picked up an illicit load of weapons in Cuba, and got caught trying to smuggle its cargo through the Panama Canal.