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Best of 2012 April – US Coast Guard To Sink Japanese ‘Ghost Ship’

Japanese Ghost Ship to be sunk
(courtesy US Coast Guard)

After monitoring it’s progress, and deciding it’s just too risky to let it drift, the US Coast Guard has plans to sink a Japanese ghost ship that has “sailed” across the Pacific Ocean after being swept away by last year’s tsunami.

The vessel, named the Ryou-un- Maru, is a 150 foot plus squid ship or fishing vessel that was swept out to sea by the tsunami that led to the Fukushima nuclear emergency.  Unlike most of the ships displaced by the huge waves, the Maru was pulled back out to sea by the waves when the tsunami receeded.   The Coast Guard says, based upon data about the ship received from Japanese officials, the ship still has about 2,000 gallons of diesel fuel for the engines, and it could pose a fire hazard if allowed to drift ashore.  Enviornmental issues would also result from a leak close to shore.

The ship is traveling about 1mph and it currently about 195 miles south of Sitka in the Gulf of Alaska.  It has no lights or communication equipment.  Boarding the ship and starting the engines is not an option because officials know nothing of potential dangers aboard.  The Coast Guard will use high explosive rounds from the cannon on a cutter to sink the vessel.  Any fuel that leaks will be easily dissipated by the ocean.   The Coast Guard consulted with the EPA and NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and they felt sinking it out in the open sea is the safest option.

The Coast Guard cutter left port on the West Coast Thursday, and is expected to reach the ship sometime Friday or over the Easter Weekend.

(This was one of a number of stories about Japanese tsunami debris that made it’s way across the Pacific from the March 2011 disaster).

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