Tag Archives: Ryou-Un Maru

Coast Guard Updates: Islands fading, SLEP’ing Bears, and OPC gains steam

From the DHS/USCGC FY2023 Budget book are a few gems including the drawdown of the once-mighty 49-ship strong Island-class 110-foot patrol boats— built between 1985-1992– the fact that at least one of the circa 1960s 210-foot Reliance-class cutters will decommission soon, and one of the 13 crews of the circa 1980s 270-foot Bear-class cutters will be disbanded as the class undergoes a Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) process to continue service for another decade (or two) as the Offshore Patrol Cutter comes onboard.


We’ve talked a bunch about the Islands in past years, and they deserve it, as they are great boats. The planned drawdown leaves just five Island-class cutters in domestic waters, three in New England and two in the Pacific Northwest, areas where smaller 87-foot boats have a tougher go of it:

USCGC Key Largo (WPB-1324) is based in Gloucester, Mass 

USCGC Sitkinak (WPB-1329) is based in Portland, Maine 

USCGC Tybee (WPB-1330) is based in Woods Hole, Mass

USCGC Cuttyhunk (WPB-13) is based in Port Angeles, Washington

USCGC Anacapa (WPB-1335) is based in Petersburg, Alaska

The cutter Anacapa tied up at the Coast Guard’s mooring in Petersburg in April 2022 Joe Viechnicki KFSK

Of note, Anacapa is somewhat famous, having sunk by NGF a Japanese “zombie trawler” a few years back.

Now THAT’S Homeland Security! ( USCG D17 photo)

Cuttyhunk is set to decommission this week– on Thursday 5 May– after 33 years of service and will be replaced at Port Angeles by Anacapa who just shipped down there from Alaska, where she has, in turn, been based for the past 32 years.

A snippet of Cuttyhunk’s long and distinguished career: 

Over the past 34 years of service, Cuttyhunk’s crew conducted a wide range of operations. The cutter’s crews completed over 1,000 operations ranging from law enforcement boardings to search and rescue responses throughout the Pacific Northwest. Cuttyhunk assisted U.S. Naval Base Kitsap Bangor in several submarine escorts before Coast Guard Maritime Force Protection Unit Bangor was established to ensure the safe transport of Ship Submersible Ballistic Submarines.

Nicknamed “The Pest of the West”, Cuttyhunk assisted in one of the largest maritime drug seizures in the Pacific Northwest, near Cape Flattery, Washington, in December of 1997. More than 3,500 pounds of marijuana, estimated at a street value of $15 million, was recovered from the OK Jedi, a 60-foot sailboat with three people onboard.

And then there were four.

Bears in hibernation

The Coast Guard has a habit of doing most of their repair, modernization, and SLEP work in-house, at the Government-owned CGY in Maryland. If only the Navy had such a program, right?

Anyway, USCGC Seneca (WMEC-906), commissioned in 1987, is the sixth of the 270-foot Bear-class cutters completed but is the first to complete its nine-month SLEP. Besides hull work in drydock, this included replacing generators and updating systems throughout the ship.

Incidentally, the Coast Guard Yard has been the DOD’s primary supporter of the MK 75 76mm gun, as everything that carried the old OTO Melera Super Rapid in the U.S. Navy (FFG-7, PHM, etc) has been decommissioned.

Bear-class cutter USCGC Thetis with her new (to her) MK 75

Changeout of CGC THETIS’ MK75 using a previously-overhauled MK75 this month at the CG Yard

Offshore Patrol Cutter

Fast facts:
• Class: Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) Heritage-class (WMSM)
• Weight: 4,320 tons
• Length: 360 feet
• Beam: 54 feet
• Speed: 22.5 knots
• Armory: Mark 110 57mm Bofors rapid-fire gun, Mark 38 MOD 3 25mm autocannon with 7.62mm chaingun over the helicopter hangar, remote and crew-served .50 caliber M2HB heavy machine gun mounts
• Crew: up to 126

Panama City’s Eastern Shipbuilding Group is celebrating the award of the fourth Heritage Class offshore patrol cutter (OPC), the future USCGC Rush (WMSM 918), as Hull# 309A last week. The Coast Guard plans to field as many as 25 of the new 360-footers to replace both the 210-foot Reliance and 270-foot Bear-class cutters.

The three other OPCs under contract to ESG, all in various states of construction:

Hull# 302A: WMSM-915: USCGC Argus
Hull# 305A: WMSM-916: USCGC Chase
Hull# 307A: WMSM-917: USCGC Ingham

What about 200 rounds of 25mm will do

The Japanese ghost ship, former squid fishing trawler the 164-foot Ryou-Un Maru, after she was on the bad end of a one-way shootout with the coast guard cutter USCGC Anacapa, a 110-foot Island Class patrol Boat about 180 miles off the Alaska Coast

Now THATS Homeland Security ! ( USCG D17 photo)

The  Ryou-Un Maru, a possibly radioactive derelict has been afloat on a lonely 4000+ mile, 51-week journey across the Pacific since being swept to sea unmanned and empty after last years Tsunami in Japan.

She is now in 6,072  feet of water

USCG news release-
JUNEAU, Alaska — The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Anacapa successfully sank the derelict fishing vessel Ryou-Un Maru 180 miles west of the Southeast Alaskan coast today at 6:15 p.m.

The Anacapa crew began its operation to sink the vessel at approximately 1 p.m. and completed two gunnery evolutions shooting highly explosive ammunition into the vessel until it sank in 6,072 feet of water.

“For the safety of mariners, sinking the vessel was the quickest way to properly address the danger this unattended vessel posed,” said Capt. Daniel Travers, Coast Guard District 17 Incident Manager. “The Anacapa crew did an outstanding job safely completing their mission.”

The Coast Guard worked closely with federal, state and local agencies to assess the immediate dangers the vessel presented and determined that sinking the vessel at sea would be the best course of action to help minimize any navigation and environmental threats. Light sheening and minimal debris have been reported from the sinking of the vessel, and the sheening is expected to quickly dissipate at sea.

USN Data sheet on the Mk38 25mm gun
MK 38 – 25 mm machine gun system

25mm cannon. The Army uses the same gun on the Bradley fighting vehicle. The USN and USCG use it for small-boat defense (say against attacking Iranian speedboats etc) .....from the look of the picture above, id say it works.

The MK-38 is a 25-mm machine gun, with an effective range of 2,000 yards (Mod 2).

The MK 38 was first employed aboard combatant and auxiliary ships conducting Mid-East Force escort operations and during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. MK 38 Mod 1s are maintained in a rotatable pool for temporary installation aboard deployed ships. Following the October 2000 attack on USS Cole (DDG 67), Task Force Hip Pocket identified an improved MK 38 Machine Gun System (MGS) as a means to increase shipboard self defense against small boat threats. In 2003, the Chief of Naval Operations documented the requirement and directed the development and fielding of the MK 38 Mod 2. Installed aboard CG, DDG, FFG, LSD, LPD, LHD, LHA, LCC, PC, OSV, and USCG FRC class ships and planned for installation aboard CVN, AS, and MK VI class ships, the MK 38 Mod 2 MGS is a low cost, stabilized self defense weapon system that dramatically improves shipboard self defense.

General Characteristics
Primary Function: (Mod 1) Single barrel, air cooled, semi- and full-automatic, manually trained and elevated machine gun system.
Contractor: Contractor Mod 1: Designed and assembled by Crane Division, Naval Surface Warfare Center; components procured from various contractors.
Date Deployed: 1986.
Contractor Mod 2: BAE Systems Minneapolis, MN; Rafael, Haifa, Israel.
Date Deployed: 2005; 166 systems installed as of Oct. 2011.
Date Deployed: 1986.
Range: 2000 yards (effective range)
Type Fire: Single shot; 180 rounds per minute automatic.
Caliber: 25 mm (1 inch).
Guidance System: Mod 1: N/A,unstabilized, manually trained and elevated.

Coast Guard Sinks Ghost Ship

Ryou-Un Maru was a peaceful 164-foot fishing boat in Japan on April 10, 2011. She was old, obsolete, and was tied up waiting to go for the scrapyard and be cut up.

Or so was the plan.

Then on April 11th, the Fukushima earthquake hit and the resulting tsunami swept the ship out to sea. For the past 51 weeks the ship, without a crew, without any power, without any lights, drifted silent and dead across the emptiness of the Northern Pacific Ocean. It continued its trip for more than 4,000 miles, covering an average of 12-miles per day, some days more, some days less. The old girl needed some time alone to herself.

Ryou-Un Maru (USCG photo)
Lonely ghost ship of the Pacific

At the end of March 2012, the USCG and its Canadian counterpart began tracking the ghost ship more than 200 miles offshore of the coast of Alaska. To monitor its position a Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules aircrew from Air Station Kodiak located the ship and dropped a self locating data marker buoy alongside it. Over the past week it drifted about 25-nm per day until finally on April 5 it was some 170nm offshore of Sitka in the Gulf of Alaska. A 62-foot Canadian trawler tried to salvage her but didn’t have the brawn to tote the ship back to shore, finders keepers indeed.


The unmanned Japanese fishing vessel Ryou-un Maru dirfts northwest approximately 164 miles southwest of Baranof Island April 4, 2012. (USCG photo)

Early Coast Guard cutters in the time before the 1920s were often classified as ‘derelict destroyers’. For this mission, which consisted of sinking ghost ships and partially submerged wrecks, they were given small 6pdr cannon and lots of ammunition.

USCGC Anacapa, by flickr user gilfoto

Meet today’s modern derelict destroyer, the 110-foot Island class patrol boat USCGC Anacapa  homeported in Petersburg, Alaska. Assigned to Sector Juneau the Anacapa sank the wayward Ryou-Un Maru today with naval gunfire in deep water. Her weapon of choice, the Mk38 25mm cannon on her forward deck like a hood ornament (its under the blue cover)

Always Ready!