Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class David Mosley says Coast Guard District 17 is actively broadcasting the vessel’s current location to mariners over channel 16 to alert them of the navigation hazard. The Coast Guard is not making public the exact coordinates of the vessel out of concerns over possible unauthorized salvage operations.
The US State Department has been in contact with the Japanese authorities, who have indicated no interest from the former owner or insurance provider to reacquire the vessel. The USCG is considering quick solutions to removing the hazard, including sinking the vessel.
US Coast Guard officials are monitoring an unmanned Japanese shrimping vessel drifting at sea, about 180 miles west of the US and Canadian border, using transmitters on buoys deployed into the ocean near the vessel. The vessel has been drifting unmanned at sea, presumably since the 2011 Fukoshima earthquake and subsequent tsunami more than a year ago. The concern is that the Ryou-Un-Maru, estimated to be 150-200 feet long, has wandered into shipping lanes, while drifting north northwest, paralleling the coastline. Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class David Mosley said Coast Guard District 17 is actively broadcasting the vessel’s current location to mariners to alert them of the navigation hazard.
US Senators Mark Begich, D-Alaska, and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., meanwhile have called for a federal action plan to address massive amounts of tsunami debris off the Pacific Coast, out of concern for marine ecosystems and the economies of coastal communities. They noted that there is no plan in place to address a large-scale marine debris event such as the approaching tsunami trash. The senators asked the Obama administration to mobilize emergency research funds to give scientists the tools they need to determine the trajectory, volume, composition and potential impact of the tsunami debris. They also urged increased support for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s debris program, for which the administration’s 2013 budget request reduces that program by 25 percent.
Debris from the tsunami is currently spread out over an area measuring 2,000 by 1,000 nautical miles. It is expected to hit Hawaii later this year and Washington and Alaska early next year.
Meanwhile, the Coast Guard has been working with federal, state and local agencies to ensure the safety of the maritime transportation system and marine environment.