Sugar, not snag, brought North Korean ship to India

It was the lure of money and not snag that led to N Korean ship dropping anchor off Little Andaman.

Updated: Aug 18, 2009, 12:36 PM IST

Zeenews Bureau

Chennai: In an interesting development, reports are filtering out that it was the lure of money and not mechanical snag that led to North Korean ship dropping anchor off Little Andaman.

According to sources, the North Korean vessel’s change of destination in the middle of its journey was a result of Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar’s announcement on July 31 which allowed private firms to import sugar at zero duty forcing. This made the ship, which was carrying nearly 17,000 tonnes of sugar for Iraq, to change its direction.

Offloading duty free sugar would have benefited the ship’s India charter as well as the captain who was to earn USD 7,000 a day for delaying and diverting the vessel.

As the gazette notification was expected around August 5, the Indian charter of the vessel asked the captain to slow down its advancement to ensure that the consignment reached only after the zero duty came into effect.

However, the Indian Coast Guard detained the ship, M V Mu Sen on August 6 after it dropped anchor off Hut Bay in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

The Coast Guard came to know about the ship around 3.00 pm and the port office tried to contact the ship through channel 16, the international VHF used in such cases, but the vessel refused to respond. A ship was then sent and the North Korean vessel tried to move out on seeing the approaching ship. It obeyed the orders after the Coast Guard opened fire twice in the air.