Water spouts rise from the Gulf of Alaska as the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Anacapa gets the range of the drifting and abandoned Japanese shrimper Ryou-un Maru. After two rounds of shelling, the derelict was sunk. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Charly Hengen
At the end of this story, KMXT Morning News host Jay Barrett speaks with in-studio guest Mark Thiessen of the Associated Press office in Anchorage about the Ryou-Un Maru.
After hours of bombardment by a U.S. Coast Guard cutter, the derelict Japanese fishing vessel off Southeast Alaska’s coast was sunk.
The Ryou-Un Maru was washed out to sea after last year’s tsunami. It crossed the Pacific Ocean without power or crew.
The Canadian Coast Guard first noticed it more than two weeks ago off the coast of British Columbia. Since then, the vessel has drifted north, floating into U.S. waters on Saturday. It was about 180 miles southwest of Sitka when it went down.
Coast Guard Petty Officer Sara Francis said the crew of the Petersburg-based cutter Anacapa began shooting at the ship at approximately 1 p.m. Thursday afternoon.
"They’re firing on it with a 25-millimeter canon and explosive ordinance," she said. It’s a really big deck gun."
Ryou-Un Maru went down at 6:15 p.m. in about 6,000 feet of water.
A light oil sheen and a small amount of debris were reported at the site. The sheen is expected to dissipate quickly.
Captain Daniel Travers, the Coast Guard’s incident manage, said the agency decided to scuttle the ship before it drifted into shallower waters or collided with another vessel.
Firing was delayed when a fishing boat entered the vicinity of the Ryou-Un Maru. Francis said the Canadian vessel’s captain initially expressed interest in salvaging the ship, but decided against it after getting a closer look.
It’s not clear how many pollutants the ship had on board. Francis said the Coast Guard does not believe it contained any radiation.