Update: Plan to sink vessel back on

Ryou-Un Maru

Vessel Ryou-Un Maru as it enters U.S. waters on March 31. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Air Station Kodiak.

The U.S. Coast Guard is moving forward with its plan to sink a derelict Japanese fishing vessel about 170 miles southwest of Sitka.

The Ryou-Un Maru has been adrift since last year’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan. It floated into U.S. waters on Saturday and has been moving in a northerly direction since first being noticed by the Canadian Coast Guard off the coast of Canada more than a week ago.

The operation to sink the boat was delayed when a fishing vessel began operating in the area. According to the Coast Guard, the vessel’s captain initially expressed interest in salvaging the ghost ship, but decided against it after getting a close-up look.

The Petersburg-based Coast Guard cutter Anacapa will now proceed with plans to sink the Ryou-Un Maru, using its 25-MM, bow-mounted machine gun.

Coast Guard officials say the boat poses a risk to other vessels should it continue to drift at sea.