Ghost Ships
September 10, 2021 9:07 AM   Subscribe

"You’ve got a boat. It’s been sanctioned. But Kim Jong Un offered you big money for fuel & a Mercedes limo, so you need to start sailing again. What can you do? Launder the vessel's identity. Let me walk you through how."

A twitter thread [unrolled] based on an issue brief [PDF] from "The Center for Advanced Studies."

The report was apparently produced by using Palantir software to analyze publicly (or commercially) available data.
posted by snuffleupagus (10 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Nylon tarps deployed in desperate bid to dodge sanctions. This showed up in my feed yesterday and seems appropriate.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 9:13 AM on September 10 [1 favorite]

That this is happening for years straight in broad daylight in ostensibly monitored ports and waters suggests it's a little more licit than the countries involved would like to admit.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 9:56 AM on September 10 [5 favorites]

How much of this could be solved if we didn't let corporations own ships through a byzantine tangle of shell corporations and misdirects in order for the ultimate owners to avoid any kind of liability if the ships cause some kind of damage or break some kind of law? Because it seems like we're trying to enforce on ships, when it is not, in fact, the ships that choose to break the sanctions.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:54 AM on September 10 [8 favorites]

This report finds that in order to counter vessel identity laundering, the IMO and other maritime regulators must take steps to strengthen due diligence

Do they consider that any number of national level agencies have a long term vested interest in having a way to move stuff around surreptitiously?

Shipping is a cash business, as in literal bags filled with greenbacks. Personally know of a person flying with a coat lining filled with large denomination bills for a "meeting". (not drugs) Admiralty law is an entirely separate kind of jurisprudence that is totally different than any national law. Established as in older than most current actual nations.
posted by sammyo at 12:09 PM on September 10 [2 favorites]

I’m all for people evading sanctions, but I would prefer if they did it in an environmentally friendly manner....
posted by thedamnbees at 1:21 PM on September 10

My theory about this is that China is happy to let a small trickle of goods into North Korea to keep them agreeable, and so allows a favored shady operator to make money doing it. Plausible deniability all around, and your provincial supporters get a load of money out of it.
posted by Bee'sWing at 1:55 PM on September 10 [1 favorite]

I’m pretty sure China is N Korea’s biggest trading partner
posted by thedamnbees at 2:14 PM on September 10 [1 favorite]

Nylon tarps deployed in desperate bid to dodge sanctions.

What, exactly, are the tarps supposed to accomplish? Are there ship-specific markings they’re covering?
posted by Thorzdad at 8:44 AM on September 11 [1 favorite]

They change the color and maybe hide some characteristic structures?

( Captain Jack Aubrey does the same with painted canvas in the 1800s.)
posted by clew at 1:00 PM on September 11

Except today the eyes are above rather than in a passing ship.
posted by Cris E at 3:55 PM on September 13

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