COSCO Shipping Tanker (Dalian), the Chinese state carrier, has switched off the ship tracking transponders on approximately one-third of its ships to avoid US sanctions, according to Reuters, which cites shipping data.
On September 25, 2019, PTI reported that the US had sought to punish COSCO Dalian for shipping Iranian crude oil, which would be a breach of sanctions placed on the country.
Reuters now says that from September 30 to October 7, 2019, a total of 14 COSCO Dalian ships stopped sending location data from their automatic identification system (AIS).
If true, this would be a breach of International Maritime Organisation (IMO) regulations, which require AIS transceivers to be fitted to commercial and passenger vessels. They can only be switched off in severe circumstances, such as to avoid detection from pirates.
COSCO Dalian and its subsidiaries own 43 oil tankers, 26 of which are very large crude carriers (VLCCs). Nine of the 14 vessels are VLCCs and six of them are reported to have been carrying oil the last time they transmitted data.