US Coast Guard to scuttle Japanese tsunami ship

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, (Reuters) – The U.S. Coast Guard opened fire yesterday on a derelict Japanese fishing vessel washed out to sea by last year’s devastating tsunami in a bid to sink it and eliminate a threat to navigation, a spokesman for the agency said.\

The Coast Guard, which hopes to send the ship to the ocean floor, fired on the vessel with a 25mm machine gun, said Petty Officer First Class David Mosley, a spokesman for the Coast Guard.

At last report the vessel was on fire and listing in the sea, as the cutter crew took a break to evaluate progress of the operation, Mosley said.

Plans to sink the fuel-laden ship had earlier been put briefly on hold because a fishing vessel was nearby.

The captain of that vessel, the Bernice, had expressed an interest in salvaging the abandoned Japanese ship, but once on the scene the captain decided it was not safe to salvage or tow it, the Coast Guard said.

The ship’s Japanese owner has also said it has no plans to salvage the vessel.

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