Justice Department officials confirmed the ship, the “Wise Honest,” is approaching U.S. territorial waters, with coordination of the U.S. Marshals and the Coast Guard.
Officials said it was the first time the U.S. has seized a North Korean cargo vessel for violating international sanctions.
“This sanctions-busting ship is now out of service,” Assistant Attorney General John Demers said in announcing the seizure.
The 17,601-ton, single hull bulk carrier ship is one of North Korea’s largest carriers, and U.S. authorities said it was used to illicitly ship coal and deliver heavy machinery to North Korea.