Japanese tsunami 'ghost ship' to be sunk by US Coast Guard


Workers clean debris fdestroyed houses in front of a large fishing boat washed onto land during last year's tsunami on March 08, 2012 in Kesennuma, Japan. The Japanese government faces an uphill battle with the need to dispose of rubble as it works to rebuild economies and livelihoods.


Daniel Berehulak

A Japanese "ghost ship" set adrift by the tsunami will be sunk by the US Coast Guard, after attempts by a Canadian fishing boat to salvage it, MSNBC reported

A Coast Guard cutter unleashed cannon fire Thursday afternoon on the Ryou-Un Maru, a 164-foot-long ship that had been drifting across the Pacific Ocean without a crew or lights since the tsunami, the Associated Press reported. The ghost ship was first spotted off the coast of Canadian British Columbia on March 23, BBC News reported

A Canadian fishing vessel had claimed salvage rights to the ship earlier on Thursday, and the sinking operation was temporarily put on hold. However, the Canadian ship was unable to tow it, MSNBC reported. 

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The ghost ship was more than 150 miles from land in waters of the Gulf of Alaska, spokesman Paul Webb told the AP. The ship could take at least an hour to sink by canon fire from the Anacapa gunnery ship of the 17th US Coast Guard. 

The Ryou-Un Maru holds more than 2,000 gallons of diesel fuel, and authorities were concerned it would interfere with the course of other vessels as it drifted through shipping lanes, the Globe and Mail reported

"It's a strange twist, but that's how things go," said Webb. "It's less risky than it would be running into shore or running into [maritime] traffic."

The sinking of the vessel also provides the Anacapa crew "a great way for them to put their skills to use," Coast Guard spokesman Kip Wadlow told MSNBC from Juneau, Alaska.