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Entries in Coast Guard (4)

Thursday
Apr052012

US Coast Guard Sinks Japanese Ghost Ship

File photo. iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SILVER SPRING, Md.) -- The U.S. Coast Guard fired its guns on a derelict Japanese fishing boat Thursday, sinking it to the bottom of the ocean after a Canadian ship decided it wasn’t worth towing for salvage.

The Coast Guard’s plans to sink the ship, which was set adrift by last year’s tsunami, were initially put off when the fishing ship Bernice C claimed salvage rights. Those rights were abandoned after an inspection showed the ship was not worth saving.

The Japanese ship, Ryou-Un Maru, floated across the Pacific Ocean after it was ripped from its moorings by the tsunami last March. It is floating roughly 195 miles south of Sitka in the Gulf of Alaska.

Japanese Coast Guard spokesman Masahiro Ichijou said the vessel belonged to a fishing company in Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island. It had been used for squid fishing before being put up for sale because of its advanced age. It has no lights or communication systems. Coast Guard officials decided to sink the ship amid fears that it could disrupt traffic as it drifted through shipping lanes, or spill fuel from its 2,000-gallon tank should it run aground.

The decision came after a review by The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency determined the best course of action would be to sink the ship with cannons and let any fuel evaporate in the open water.

About 5 million tons of debris were swept into the ocean by the tsunami, which also triggered a nuclear crisis at the Fukushima power plant. Alaska state health and environmental officials have said there’s little chance that debris landing on Alaska shores will be contaminated by radiation from the disaster.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan172012

Italian Cruise Ship Wreck: Missing Grows to 29

STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images(GIGLIO, Italy) -- The number of people missing in the Italian cruise ship wreck has been increased to 29, the Italian coast guard said late Monday.

A top coast guard official, Marco Brusco, said on state TV that 25 passengers and four crew members have not been found.

The increased number of missing threatens to eventually boost the fatality count from the capsized ship.  At the moment, at least six people are confirmed dead.

The discouraging announcement came after the coast guard had said all but 16 people -- including a couple from Minnesota -- had been accounted for.  The official number rose after officials in other countries had reported higher numbers of missing citizens.

The search for survivors was still under way Monday as night fell, even though some officials said that the possibility of finding passengers and crew still alive three days after the vessel ran aground near the small island of Giglio grew slim.

"The hopes of finding any more survivors are fading," Sergio Ortelli, the mayor of Giglio, told The Sun on Monday.

Francesco Schettino, the ship's captain, is being detained and questioned on allegations of manslaughter and abandoning the ship.  He is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday.

Rescue efforts had been halted for about three hours earlier in the day because the huge vessel sits on a 120-foot ledge and had shifted slightly as the water got rough.  Officials feared the ship could be pushed off the ledge into water that is 224 feet deep.

Officials, however, told ABC News on Monday that it had moved only about 1.5 centimeters and resumed their search for bodies and possible survivors.

The Costa Concordia was carrying 4,234 passengers and crew when it hit rocks Friday evening near Giglio, off the coast of Tuscany.  Investigators say the ship was "incredibly close," about 450 feet from the shore.

At a news conference Monday, Costa Cruises chief executive officer Pier Luigi Foschi said the ship's captain, Francesco Schettino, had made an unapproved, unauthorized maneuver to change the ship's programmed course.

It's unclear why the ship was so close to shore.  Early reports said that Schettino often brought the ship near island's port so passengers could take photographs.  Italian media on Monday, however, reported that he drew near the shore so he could wave to a friend who was on land.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Dec132011

Chinese Stabbing of South Korean Coast Guardsman Sparks Outrage

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SEOUL, South Korea) -- Public anger in South Korea has escalated a day after a Chinese boat captain stabbed a South Korean coast guardsman to death and seriously injured another with a knife.  The captain is charged with murder while resisting arrest by coastal police patrolling illegal Chinese fishing boats at the West Sea’s exclusive economic zone.

South Korean media headlines on Tuesday strongly criticized the increasing number of violent Chinese fishermen in recent years.

“They were pirates, not fishermen,” wrote local newspaper Joongang Daily.

The newspaper Chosun Ilbo ran a picture and story of the murdered coast guard who led one of the 68 navy vessels patrolling thousands of illegal fishing boats around the Korean peninsula.

“In concern for diplomatic tensions, (our naval police) try to peacefully restrict the armed fishermen risking their lives,” wrote its editorial pointing out that the Chinese normally carry sharpened bamboo sticks, axes, sickles and steel pipes in their boats.  “They are becoming brutal and organizational day by day.”

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak pledged to get tough and strengthen measures to ensure safety of coast guard officers.  Meanwhile, the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Beijing expressed “regret” over the death of the police guard on Tuesday, a day after furious criticism from the Korean public and demands for public apology.

Tensions in and around the waters on the Korean peninsula have risen in the past years as Chinese fishing boats roam to expand their catches. North Korea has been selling rights to fish in its territory to the Chinese government charging $41,900 per boat, according to Joongang Daily.

But these boats often illegally cross into South Korean territory known to be rich with blue crabs, anchovies and croaker, said coast guard spokesman Kim Dong-Jin. The number of Chinese boats caught this year alone increased to 439, up 43 percent from the same period last year.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jan212011

Five Americans Bound for the Philippines Missing

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(MANILA, Philippines) -- The Philippine Coast Guard is searching for a missing sailboat carrying five Americans.

The 38-foot twin-hulled catamaran, The Pineapple, left the Pacific island of Guam 15 days ago and was scheduled to arrive in the central Filipino island of Cebu Sunday.

Concerned relatives contacted the U.S. Coast Guard, which conducted a search-and-rescue operation with their Filipino counterparts, Lt. Commander Armando Balilo said Friday.

"The weather has been rough out there with strong winds and high waves, so we're concerned," Balilo said.

Cebu is located about 1,400 miles west of Guam, a U.S. territory.  Heavy rains and rough seas have been reported in the area in recent weeks.

Balilo said four men and one woman are aboard the sailboat.  Their identities and hometowns have yet to be released.

The Philippines has dispatched two aircraft to help in the search.  Balilo said the Philippine Coast Guard has alerted all coast guard stations and asked all vessels in the Eastern Visayas region to help in the search.

The U.S. Coast Guard is also conducting a search. 

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