This is resurfaced footage from the Battle of Amami-Ōshima, also known as the Spy Ship Incident in the Southwest Sea of Kyūshū in 2001!

A North Korean Spy Ship was sunk by Japan after a six-hour confrontation between the Japanese Coast Guard and an armed North Korean vessel, which took place near the island of Amami-Ōshima, in the East China Sea.

The encounter ended in the sinking of the North Korean vessel, which the Japanese authorities later announced was determined to have been a spy craft.

The encounter took place outside Japanese territorial waters, but within the exclusive economic zone, an area extending 200 miles from Japanese land, within which Japan can claim exclusive rights to fishing and mineral resources.

The 15 North Korean sailors who manned the ship were left to perish in the East China Sea.

Japan later decided to raise the ship and put it in a museum. The ship was not a simple rusty trawler, and held proof of the level of sophistication found in some of the North Korean endeavors. Literally, some 1960’s James Bond level tech.

The North Korean spy ship was sunk after a battle with the Japanese Coast Guard on Dec. 22, 2001. In 2003 the trawler was raised by the Japanese to confirm her origin and intentions. Inspection of the hulk determined she was of North Korean origin and most likely an infiltration and spy vessel. It was revealed that the vessel was camouflaged as a Chinese or Japanese fishing boat and that she could develop 33 knots, far faster than any commercial trawler. The ship had also a hidden double hatch in the stern to be used as an exit door for speedboats. After the inspections were deemed complete the hulk was displayed at the JCG museum in Yokohama.

There is however, speculation that the ship was not, in fact, a spy vessel, but a narcotics mule. The vessel may have been hauling heroin to the Japanese Yakuza, which is, even more of reason to have sunk the vessel.

Narcotics interdiction on North Korean vessels in the Western Pacific Rim, is not uncommon.

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Previously published on SOFREP 09.22.2016