Approximately 3,743 tonnes, built in the mid 1980’s. One of five vessels reportedly owned by the Pong Su Shipping Co, believed to be controlled by the North Korean Workers Party.
I spotted her at Sydney Australia’s Garden Island in March 2006. Reportedly being prepared to be destroyed after having been seized in a 150 kilogram heroin bust valued at $ 120 million by Australian Authorities in 2003.
In March 2006, Capt. Man Sun Song – 65, Political Officer Dong Song Choi – 61, Chief Mate Man Jin Ri – 51, and Chief Engineer Ju Chon Ri – 51 were all found not guilty and returned to North Korea following 3 years in prison. Charges against 26 sailors had been dropped previously. Four additional persons on board have pleaded guilty of aiding and abetting importation of heroin with sentences in excess of 20 years. Capt. Man Sun Song had suffered a heart attack as his ship was seized.
Chronology of Events:
March 15, 2003: Pong Su departs Nampo, North Korea bound for Singapore, following conversion of bilge tanks to fuel tanks with capacity to make long non-stop voyages. At Singapore, loaded bunkers believed to have been paid for by the Taiwanese arm of an international drug smuggling syndicate.
March 25, 2003: Pong Su sailed between Singapore and Jakarta reregistered under the Flag of Convenience – Tuvalu – supposedly headed to Melbourne, Australia on a time charter to the Malaysian company KITMO to pick up $1 million worth of BMW’s
April 7, 2003: Pong Su appeared on Western Australia’s horizon.
April 15, 2003: Rounded Cape Ottaway and anchored in Boggaley Creek. The car shipment had suddenly been cancelled so the Chief Engineer decided to make urgent engine repairs.
April 16, 2003: Spotted off Wye River. Two men and six 25kg bundles of heroin in an inflatable rubber dingy attempt to land at Boggaley Creek. One dies and the other is captured along with an accomplice.
April 17, 2003: Pong Su heads to sea at full speed after being buzzed by an RAAF Orion.
April 18, 2003: Australian Frigate HMAS Stuart dispatched from Sydney.
April 20, 2003: Pong Su boarded 70 nautical miles off the coast of Newcastle.