Photo: AP In this photo provided by the U.S. Coast Guard, a plume of smoke rises from the derelict Japanese ship Ryou-Un Maru after it was hit by canon fire by a U.S. Coast Guard cutter in the Gulf of Alaska, April 5, 2012.
Photo: AP In this photo provided by the U.S. Coast Guard, a plume of smoke rises from the derelict Japanese ship Ryou-Un Maru after it was hit by canon fire by a U.S. Coast Guard cutter in the Gulf of Alaska, April 5, 2012.

The U.S. Coast Guard has sunk an abandoned Japanese fishing boat off the coast of Alaska, more than a year after a tsunami sent it drifting aimlessly across the Pacific Ocean.

The 50-meter long Ryou-Un Mara went down Thursday in the Gulf of Alaska, hours after a Coast Guard vessel started shooting at it, setting fire to the so-called “ghost ship,” which had no lights, crew or communications system.

The Coast Guard decided to sink the Ryou-Un Mara because it posed a significant danger to ships sailing in the area.  Officials say sinking the ship poses no risk to the environment and that any fuel on board would be evaporated by now.

The sinking operation was delayed when a Canadian fishing boat expressed interest in salvaging the Japanese boat. The Canadian ship eventually determined it could not tow the crippled vessel.

The Ryou-Un Mara is the largest piece of debris to drift into North American waters after last year’s tsunami caused by a devastating earthquake off the Japanese coast.

 

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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