INTERPOL has been requested by the Sri Lankan Government to trace a Cambodian-flagged
cargo ship that fled harbor arrest in Colombo on October 14 after being detained
for carrying "contaminated cargo".
The Syrian-owned MV Draco, which has flown a Cambodian "flag of convenience"
since April 27, defied a Sri Lankan High Court arrest order in the early hours of
October 14 and has been missing since.
The shipping trade magazine Fairplay reported on October 25 that in mid-September
Draco was diverted to Colombo en route from India to Somalia with a cargo of bagged
rice and fertilizer after it began taking in water through leaks in its hull.
On September 27 Draco was subsequently declared unseaworthy and its cargo contaminated,
and was ordered to pull into dry dock in Colombo for repairs.
It is believed the Draco's captain fled custody in Colombo in an effort to find an
alternative buyer for the contaminated cargo, which was automatically stripped of
its insurance when the ship was declared unseaworthy.
Khek Sakara, Chairman of the Cambodia Shipping Corporation, the Cambodian Government
concession company that sells Cambodian "flags of convenience" to the international
shipping industry, told the Post that instances in which impounded ships flee arrest
are "not unusual".
""It is not unusual for vessels to sneak out of detention if they are not
properly guarded," Sakara told the Post by email. "In many countries, arrangements
must be made to employ policemen or guards on board to prevent vessels [escaping]
Sakara pledged that his company would cooperate fully with efforts to retrieve the
Draco and bring its captain to justice.
"We will not allow [Draco] to change name or change ownership ...to avoid detection,"
he said. "We will be most happy to cooperate with Interpol with their investigations."