15.2.14

Chong Chon Gang:departs Panama for Cuba

Chong Chon Gang, North Korean ship seized with undeclared Cuban weapons on board is returning to Cuba, says the Panamanian government.Panama's Foreign Ministry said the ship set off on February 15.




[July 31 2013]


About 25 percent of the sugar has been removed so far. Officials have found most of the weapons Havana said were on board, including the two fighter jets, originally produced by the Soviet Union in the late 1950s, and two missile radar systems.

Investigators have gone through most of two storage houses in the 155-meter (510 foot) vessel, but three more warehouses remain.
Pentagon had long since written off the island as a military threat.
Since Cuba's military doctrine was designed to deter any attack, it needs to maintain the arms it has, he added.
'Cuba cannot afford to buy anything newer and does not have repair facilities of its own for such needs,' he said.
'Thus if it is not to scrap, for example, the aircraft entirely, it must repair and potentially update them in some areas.'
In early July, a top North Korean general, Kim Kyok Sik, visited Cuba and met counterparts on the island.


[July 22]







PANAMA CITY, Panama — Panamanian authorities have found two Soviet-era MiG-21 fighter jets aboard Chong Chon Gang, a North Korea-flagged ship seized this month as it tried to pass through the Panama Canal after departing from Cuba.


[July 18]
Arms smuggler?




Another old North Korean freighter, the 390-foot O Un Chong Nyon Ho, had made the same trip last year without attracting suspicion, passing through the Panama Canal and calling at the same two Cuban ports.


The two freighters were among five North Korean cargo vessels that had traversed the Panama Canal since 2010, underscoring the rarity of North Korean shipping in the area.


It was not known what cargo the O Un Chong Nyon Ho might have carried to or from Cuba in 2012 but it made the same Cuban port calls as its impounded sister vessel, stopping first in Havana for a few days in May 2012, then visiting Puerto Padre, a major sugar export point, for five days, then returning to Havana for a stopover of about three weeks before heading home.

O UN CHONG NYON HO IMO: 8330815

Description:
Port of registry: Chongjin (North Korea) 
IMO: 8330815 
Call sign: HMAD 
Ex-names: - - - - 
Type/class: General cargo 
Built by: Chongjin Shipyard - Huichon (North Korea) in 1983 
DWT: 9,913 
Home port: Chongjin
Class society: Korean Shipping Register
Build year: 1983
Builder*: Chongjin Shipyard
Huichon, North Korea
Owner: Ocean Maritime Management
Pyongyang, North Korea
Manager: Ocean Maritime Management
Pyongyang, North Korea



North Korea is also known to be seeking to evade sanctions and get spare parts for its own weapons systems, particularly Mig jet fighters. That raises the possibility that in lieu of cash, Cuba was paying for the repairs with a mix of sugar and jet equipment, experts said.

“We think it is credible that they could be sending some of these systems for repair and upgrade work,” said Neil Ashdown, an analyst for IHS Jane’s Intelligence. “But equally there is stuff in that shipment that could be used in North Korea and not be going back.Panamanian authorities said it might take a week to search the ship, since so far they have only examined two of its five container sections.

[July 17]

On July 17, Cuba, one of North Korea's few allies, claimed the shipment as its own, with the foreign ministry listing 240 metric tons of "obsolete defensive weapons," including two anti-aircraft missile systems, as being on board.
There were also "nine missiles in parts and spares," various Mig-21 aircraft parts and 15 plane motors, "all of it manufactured in the mid-20th century" and "to be repaired and returned to Cuba."
"The agreements subscribed by Cuba in this field are supported by the need to maintain our defensive capacity in order to preserve national sovereignty," the ministry said in an English-language statement.   Analysts in Seoul said the North, which successfully launched a long-range rocket to put a satellite into orbit last December, was fully capable of providing missile repair services for other countries.
"But we cannot rule out the possibility of North Korea importing parts for its own Soviet-era missiles", Shin In-Kyun, president of the private Korea Defence Network

[July 16]



Chong Chon Gang IMO: 7937317



SNR-75 fire control radar

The Chong Chon Gang was tracked leaving Vostochnyy, Russia on April 12, according to Lloyd's List Intelligence, a maritime intelligence company. It was next registered arriving in Balboa, on the Panama Canal's Pacific side, on May 31, and crossed the waterway the next day with a stated destination of Havana, Cuba.

It then disappeared from the tracking system and reappeared in Manzanillo, Panama, on July 11, according to shipping data obtained by research group IHS Maritime. IHS said there were indications it had changed cargo in the interim.

IHS Jane, a global analytics firm, said it had identified the equipment shown in the images as an SNR-75 'Fan Song' fire control radar for the SA-2 family of surface-to-air missiles.


[earlier]

Listen to the full report in the following audio.

 


Hidden in sugar
Panamanian authorities have seized a North Korean-flagged ship traveling from Cuba that was carrying “undeclared military cargo," Panama's president, Ricardo Martinelli, said late Monday night.It retained a ship in the Port of Manzanillo in Columbus with military equipment from Cuba, North Korea flag  President Ricardo Martinelli said : "The ship brought sugar, removing the first litter found military equipment, the captain committed suicide, and the crew refused to cooperate. "
The seizure reportedly took place last Friday afternoon when Panamanian security forces boarded the Chong Chon Gang IMO: 7937317, as it prepared to enter the Panama Canal, apparently on its way to North Korea.
Vessel's Details
Ship Type: Cargo
Year Built: 1977
Length x Breadth: 155 m X 20 m
Gross Tonnage: 9147, DeadWeight: 13990 t
Speed recorded (Max / Average): 6 / 5.5 knots
Flag: DPR Korea [KP]
Call Sign: HMZF
IMO: 7937317, MMSI: 445114000
Last Position Received
Area: Panama Canal
Latitude / Longitude: 9.3700° / -79.8846° (Map)
Speed/Course 0 knots / 207˚
Last Known Port: MANZANILLO
Info Received: 2d 3h 41min ago (AIS Source: 98)
Not Currently in Range
Itineraries History
Voyage Related Info (Last Received)
Draught: 8.9 m
Destination: PANAMA
ETA: 2013-07-09 17:30
Info Received: 2013-07-14 06:56 (2d, 3h 41min ago)

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