The 1993 Yinhe Incident Print
Think Tank
From Chinese blog   

yinhe ship (screenshot)

In 1993, a Chinese-based regular container ship Yinhe (银河,Galaxy) was stopped by the US Navy in the international waters of the Indian Ocean for three weeks.

The US government alleged that the shipment was carrying two chemicals for export to the Middle East. The two chemicals are thiodiglycol, the basic ingredient of mustard gas, and thionyl chloride, used to make nerve gas. But the search of the ship proved fruitless.

The information provided by the CIA that led to the ship search, specified container numbers CSAQ3101 and CSAQ3102, but there were no such container numbers on board. A container with a similar number, CSAQ3010, was opened first, and it turned out to be poker cards being exported to Pakistan.

A Chinese blogger posted an article in March this year claiming the reason  the US was unable to find the chemical containers was because:

•    The CIA certainly received the list of containers of this shipment, and that included the containers of chemicals. It is quite easy for them to obtain this information, as they could bribe shipping workers.

•    Though the containers would normally be loaded onto the ship according to the list, some containers do not arrive on time to the dock, so it is quite possible and easy for the containers to go on the next shipment. The blogger said he had personally experienced a ship was about to depart while he was still struggling with others uploading a container.  

•    The final list of containers in the shipment will be according to the list issued by the goods Management Company.

•    The two containers for the chemicals missed the ship due to busy traffic, but the exporting company was not worried about the delay, which was only a difference of a few days.  

•    The US informant followed the truck to the port, and watched the truck entering the gate, but did not see the containers being uploaded to the ship.

•    It is not known whether the informant was caught.