A South Korean bulk carrier collided with a North Korean fishing vessel on October 1, but did not feel it was safe to stop to aid the boat in light of longstanding political tension between the two nations.
The handymax bulker, Highny (40,000 dwt, built 1986), was laden with a coal cargo while sailing from Primorsky Krai in Russia’s Far East to Kaohsiung in Taiwan when it allegedly collided with the fishing vessel near Jeju Island in the Japan Sea, reports say.
Five fisherman sustained injuries in the collision with the bulker, which is owned by South Korea’s CS Marine and managed by Busan-based J Shipping Co.
The fishing vessel is Turubong-3, which belongs to North Korea’s Foreign Trade Administration Bureau of North Hamgyong Province.
The bulker’s duty officer reportedly saw the fishing vessel at the last moment but did not manoeuvre the ship quickly enough to avoid it. At the same time, the fishing boat turned and crossed the path of the cargo ship, Korean reports say.
Highny‘s crew said the ship slowed to ensure that the fishing vessel was still afloat, but did not stop as they feared for their safety because of tensions between North and South Korea. This breaks international rules set out in IMO’s International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS).
The bulk carrier arrived in Kaohsiung on October 5 with dents and six-metre-long scratches to its bow on the starboard side.
CS Marine has not publically acknowledged the incident, which is currently being investigated by the Busan Maritime Safety Authority. A surveyor from the bulker’s insurance company in Taiwan is reportedly assessing the damage, the shipping company told Korean press.