Mongolia’s Dubious Merchant Navy

The country risks serious damage to its reputation with its questionable maritime activities.

Mongolia’s Dubious Merchant Navy

By Graham Alexander

With more than 250 days of sun a year, Mongolia’s moniker – Land of the Blue Sky – is well deserved; its association with the deep blue sea, though, is less obvious. The nation’s capital, Ulaanbaatar, is located more than 1,300 kilometres from the ocean, and Mongolia is the largest landlocked country in the world. Nevertheless, over the last decade Mongolia has developed a maritime tradition that it rarely speaks of, offering flags of convenience to shipowners since 2003. Although little attention has been given to Mongolia’s merchant fleet, the lack of transparency and scrutiny associated with it risk facilitating illicit activities and causing serious reputational damage to the country.  The material benefit that the Mongolian State derives from its merchant navy is far from clear, making it reasonable to question whether Mongolia’s maritime tradition is worth preserving, or if it would be best abandoned.

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2 Replies to “Mongolia’s Dubious Merchant Navy”

  1. David Stone

    I would like to ask that the author research a little more as this paragraph is wrong. “The final example of abuse of Mongolian flags of convenience is perhaps the most surprising, and relates to control and oversight. In the context of the international effort to combat piracy off the coast of Somalia, a number of floating arsenals have sprung up in international waters. These vessels act as storage locations for weapons and personnel, so that ships can quickly and efficiently pick up and deposit security teams as they pass through the Gulf of Aden. With these vessels based out of international waters, regulation of the weapons and material on board falls to the flag state. All weapons aboard U.K. flagged ships, for example, are registered and licensed with the British authorities. If the flag state has limited controls over the storing and transfer of military equipment, then these ships may operate with no oversight. A number of service providers seem to be using Mongolian-flagged ships to this end, and a December 2014 research report by the Remote Control Project (a body that examines developments in warfare) found at least 32 ships that act as such floating armories in and around the area. Of these, eight were found to use Mongolian flags of convenience, while a further two are thought to do so. Given Mongolia’s presence on several blacklists, this means that these weapons are as good as unregistered and these ships are acting without any effective oversight or regulation.” Many of the vessels using mongolian flags have been “vetted” by BIS (UK export dept.) and as such UK PMSC’s can and do use them. it

  2. David Stone

    is also not correct to say that only UK flagged vessels have “legal” arms onboard. Any UK PMSC that has the OGTL MAP is allowed on any vessel no matter the flag as long as the flag state permission is given.

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