Japanese Ghost Ship Sunk By U.S. Coast Guard Off Alaska

A Japanese “ghost ship” that has been drifting across the ocean since last year was sunk by the U.S. Coast Guard on Thursday about 180 miles southwest of Alaska’s southeast coast.

The Japanese ghost ship, a fishing vessel called the “Ryou-Un Maru”, went adrift after a devastating tsunami hit Japan last year. The ghost ship had to be sunk, officials explain, because the derelict vessel posed a risk to navigation in the region.

Another concern, according to the Associated Press, was that the ship’s rusting tank was able to carry roughly 2,000 gallons of diesel fuel, which posed a significant hazard at sea and land. Rather than taking any chances, the NOAA and the EPA decided it was best to sink the ship.

The LA Times reports:

“The former shrimping vessel had been designated for scrapping and no longer had a communication system — or any lights. That spooky image led the drifting vessel to be dubbed a “ghost ship.” Sometimes, the ship moved along as slowly as one mile per hour.”

A U.S. Coast Guard cutter opened fire on the 164-foot ghost ship, blasting it with an initial barrage of 25mm high explosive shells. The first attempt to cause the ship to sink was unsuccessful, however, and it took the U.S. Coast Guard another barrage, this time using more powerful ammunition, to send the Japanese ghost ship into a slow descent to the bottom of the ocean.

The process took about 4 hours, the Cost Guard told the Associated Press, before the Japanese ghost ship started its decent into waters more than 6,000 feet deep.