The President’s Office has reiterated that Xin Yuan 18 was never registered to the Maldives, even if its Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) code is given to vessels registered in Maldives.
In a statement issued on Thursday, the Office said that the “MMSI number 455910000 associated with the vessel named Xin Yuan 18 was never registered in the country,” adding that there is no record of the number "ever being registered in the Maldives".
However, even the President’s Office noted that MMSI range for Maldives is 455******.
“The Communications Authority of Maldives (CAM) administers the registration of all communication equipment on maritime vessels, as well as the issuance of all call signs and numbers. CAM only issues MMSA number to vessels registered by the Maldives Transport Authority,” reads the statement.
At around midnight of the 24th of February, Japan said that an aircraft belonging to its Maritime Self-Defence Force spotted the tanker, Xin Yuan 18, ‘laying alongside’ North Korean- flagged Chon Ma San. Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that “following comprehensive assessment, the Government of Japan strongly suspects that they conducted ship-to- ship transfers banned by UNSCR [United Nations Security Council Resolution]”. It also said that the Security Committee has been informed of the matter as well.
However, Maldives denied that Xin Yuan was registered there, with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs saying that Maldivian authorities “do not allow flag of convenience to foreign owned vessels to operate outside Maldivian waters, and therefore, the use of the Maldivian flag on Xin Yuan 18 is clearly in violation of the Maldivian laws and regulations”.
Not long after, the President’s Office released a statement, saying that it will ‘pursue aggressive action against those who tarnish the good standing and reputation of our nation and that of our people,” for using the Maldivian national flag “in such a manner”.