Video: USCG’s Mk 38 Cannon Sinks Japanese Ghost Ship

Japanese vessel sinks in Gulf of AK

In case you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the video of the Coast Guard yesterday sinking a derelict Japanese fishing trawler that’s been adrift since the tsunami that devastated Japan last year. The 164-foot long Ryou Un Maru was sitting in a Japanese port waiting to be scrapped last year when the tsunami pushed it out to sea. In the months since, the unmanned, unpowered ghost ship drifted to within 180 southwest of the Alaskan town of Sitka. Rather than letting the ship run aground closer to shore or risk a collision with other vessells the Coast Guard decided to sink her with the badass Mk 38 25 MM chain gun of an Island class cutter.

Click through the jump for the video.

  • Noha307

    Here’s what I don’t understand, if they were trying to sink it (and they were) why were they spraying it with water? It almost seems like they were trying to put out the fire that THEY HAD CAUSED. Were they trying to flood the ship faster so it would sink? Or did they never intend for the fire to happen? (which I find hard to believe that they didn’t know it would happen) I can assume that they only intended to hole the ship and that the fire could cause some sort of environmental damage.

    • MCQknight

      Because they probably need practice. Not everyday they get to put out a fire on an actual ship. Then again not every day they get to blow up said ship with 25mm cannon fire!

    • Brad

      One of the key ingredients to sinking a ship is water….

    • Alex

      A fuel tank on board the fishing vessel ruptured at some point during the year long drift. Canadian sailors that attempted to claim salvage boarded the vessel and found lower decks awash in fuel. It would seem that fire containment was done to prevent secondaries, and environmental impact.

    • dontalray

      They were training on the ship before sinking it….

    • Jay

      They were placing water into the hall to displace the ships buoyancy, thus sinking the ship. Fire, in its self, does not sink a ship (short term). Over time; the heat produced from fire can make the steel expand and contract if exposed, which can damage the joint-welds and reduce the vessels water tight integrity. However, the water placed inside the vessels bulkheads (as see in the video) distorts the watertight integrity, establishing ships buoyancy as ineffective due to displacement and added weight

  • Noha307

    By the way, if you’re wondering why they didn’t try to tow the ship to port instead of sink it – that’s because someone already tried. Before the USCG started firing on the ship a Canadian fishing boat arrived and claimed salvage rights, but was unable to tow the derelict ship.

    In addition, you know the Coast Guard just wanted some target practice – they’re probably becoming jealous of the USN and all its SINKEX’s by this point.

  • RLTW

    Is the Mk38 on that ship unstablized? There was a lot of bad shooting in that video.

  • Nicky

    See, I do know, why would you want to use a 25MM bushmaster cannon to sink a ship. They could have simply used either a bunch of well placed C4 or just have the US navy send a Mk48 ACAP torpedo and send it to Davy Jones locker.

  • tiger

    The Coasties need a real deck gun. Might be nice on some fiberglass sailboat, but that 25mm was not very badass. Go back to the 40mm bofors for a cutter like that.

  • I’m glad that was the Coast Guard and not the Navy. Thankfully Coast Gaurd duties are centered around retriving people from the sea and not sinking/ defending our country from foriegn invading ships, because that was embarrassing.

    They definitely need more target practice.

    • Ret. Coastie Frank

      Ah but grasshopper, the Coast Guards duties under the Dept. of Home Land Securities does include sinking and defending our country from foreign invading ships! I do agree that they need some practice but with the CG budget already so low, and the Prez and congress trying to cut the armed forces bugets even more there is very little money in the CG coffers for target practice!

  • guess

    The initial news reports I saw where talking bout 25mm fire followed by “rounds twice that size”
    So just stupid reporters talking bout something they know nothing about I assume

    • blight_

      Press reports are as dumb as the press release released by the press officer talking down to the press in the first place. The assumption is generally that civilian press rarely know anything about the subject matter they are reporting on.

  • mpower6428

    i wonder if the CG captains were arguing over who got to sink it. hell, i would. id pull in all my favors.

  • Lance

    Should of let the Navy shoot a few Harpoon ASMs at it and blown it into a billion small pieces.

    • blight_

      What training opportunity do you get firing missiles?

      Versus putting lead on target.

      • Thunder350

        The same amount, you press a button on a computer. Sit back and watch.

    • brian

      would only need one harpoon to sink a ship that size more like obilterate a ship that size

    • PolicyWonk

      That would be overkill. Harpoons aren’t cheap – and simple ammunition rounds/shells are.

    • Ret Coastie Frank

      You do realize how many millions each Harpoon ASM cost don’t you!? If they had fired 100 25 mm rounds at it, it still would have been small pocket change.

  • UAVgeek

    Good use of the taxpayer dollar, no training opportunity wasted.

  • Noha307

    Anybody know what the name of the intercepting Coast Guard vessel was?

    • Noha307

      Never mind, just answered my own question. It is the USCGC Anacapa, an Island class patrol boat.

    • Doreen

      Anacapa, out of Petersburg AK

  • George

    Hurrah for the first Jap ship the US sinks in 67 years!

  • Valenburg

    It was the Anacapa.

  • sean

    probably shooting tpt at it instead of shooting the good stuff hei-t.

  • Luis V Bello

    I don’t agree with this operation at all! This ship should be towed, out of the ocean, no matter what. We, humans, can’t pretend to use all the oceans as trash collectors.
    !Lets keep all the oceans clean and safe!

  • Kid

    Sunken ships make great artificial reefs.

  • Guest

    This video is a preview of what LCS engagements will be in the future decades.

    Don’t forget, the Main Battery of an LCS is 57mm, but the only gun firecontrol system requires a manual operator to manually keep the video camera constantly centered on the target. Forget radar based GFCS, which is so Last-Century.

    Optical-only GFCS ! LCS must have designed in the 1950’s. Early 1950’s.

    • PolicyWonk

      If this is a preview of future LCS engagements, the US Navy is in SERIOUS trouble. Un unarmed, unarmored boat should be fast work – even for the USCG.

  • Tigger

    Wow, how bad was the movie? It looked like a Hollywood film of bad guys shooting and missing the good guys with every shot! So must for the Billions spent on Homeland Security EH?

  • voodkokk

    The 164-foot long Ryou Un Maru was sitting in a Japanese port waiting to be scrapped last year when the tsunami…

    Survived a tsunami and one year unmanned at sea. Nice shipbuilding, talk about sea-worthy.

  • Tom

    As an old destroyer firecontrol tech, I would have hung my head in shame at that level of “marksmanship,” On our WWII long-hull Gearing class (DD 841), we claimed that if you told us where the mayor’s house was we could put the second 5″/38 round right down his chimney at 10,000 yards — the initial round always being a little off because of ‘cold gun error.’ Our mount 52 had “16 Tons” inscribed on its flank after the Tennessee Ernie Ford song. The point being, “If the right one don’t get you, the left one will!!”

  • Bill Gallagher

    Keep in mind that cost is a major issue. Bullets are cheap compared to a harpoon missle. Cheaper to send a small CG ship than a navy one. Good use of taxpayers money.
    Fire control is the fault of the manufacture, It;s all computer control, not the user. Is this the issue of poor defence contracts???? Or a firmware upgraded needed but in a budget cut environment?????
    Feel like the Jap company should be held to foot the cost????, but do not personally know if international law will addrees this issue permitting others people trash( in this case Japan) wash up close or near America Shores, causing a navigation hazard to others……possiable more loss of live and property.
    Unknow to the CG what is onboat the drifting ship. Well, sent a team to find out. Who reads to turn a control value or push a button in Japinese.? We Americans do not like to speak a second language. Drop your mother tongue and speak English….
    No option left but to FIRE THE GUNS…..Yes, more trash on the ocean floor and do not forget all the outerspace ships going around the world, ready to cash to earth some day soon…..

    • Shail

      It isn’t ALL the fault of the contractors (but to a large part is: defective and/or improperly functioning equipment needs to be addressed, reviewed, and improved upon).
      But if crews themselves don’t get sufficient live fire gunnery training, no amount of designing the best weapon systems in the world will guarantee victory.

      As they say about aircraft: a good/great pilot in a mediocre aircraft will most always do better than a poor pilot in a great aircraft.
      Same goes for ship gunners: practice hones perfection.
      But yes, if the builders failed at designing a suitable weapon system, they are a major part of the problem.

  • guest

    I hope they managed to take most the contaminants like oil out first.

  • Hickelbilly


    • Thomas L. Nielsen

      They sure are! I can see five of them just from where I’m sitting.

      Regards & all,

      Thomas L. Nielsen

  • Les Hall

    Come on guys and gals, how did you give your young crew dogs experience? Totally ideal and something they will remember for years. Like all stories, the target gets larger and the misses get closser…

  • puresalt01

    Its the mk 242, and i bet they were training people.. For a large part, it is completely manual… Im sure most of you could not handle moving a case of ammo that weighs 120 lbs on a narrow, shifting deck to begin with….

  • Twidget at large

    In answer to previous posts, there is NOT a computer involved in firing the MK 38 on a USCG 110, its ALL manual.

  • Boone

    i would agree that you need to shoot below the water line to sink a ship, however one note is picking at my brain. Wouldn’t the 25mm disintegrate once it hits the water due to its speed? It might stay together long enough if they hit RIGHT next to the boat. But in the video it looked like they were shooting a good 20-40ft away from the boat.

  • src

    its called walking your rounds in.

    • d. kellogg

      that trawler was literally the “broad side of a barn”,
      out there in open water,
      water that appeared to be minimally rough (low sea state).

      Is it that hard to hit the broadside of a barn?

      As far as distance, until they used the hose on it,
      they had to keep a safe distance measured in dozens of yards, because of the shell fragments and possibly a bad ricochet that could risk hitting the USCG vessel and its crew.
      Even a highly-successful Bushmaster Chain Gun can send a defective round
      in god-only-knows-what direction.

  • Tom

    Note to Twidget: when shooting manually, you “fire on the uproll!!”

  • john

    There is no fire control system on that class of cutter. Its manually operated and targeted via a small optical scope from the forward deck of a 110′ cutter that is only as stable as the sea state allows.

  • mikey

    This was NOT the firsy US sinking of a Japanese vessel since WWII – CGC Jarvis sank a Japanese fishing boat in the ’70’s down by Kwajalein. The vessel had burned and the crew had abandoned it. we rescued 1 crewmember – the navagator – who had been clinging to a wooden hatch cover for several days. Then as the ship was also a derelict, we used 50 cal and a 5”/54 to sink it. – the gun fire also lit the fish hold on fire befor it sank.The one survivor watched from the Jarvis’s bridgewing as we fired upon his home. Only the aft section of the ship had burned – the crews quarters/bridge/and engine spaces – if the crew had stayed with the ship and stayed on the bow, the other dozen or so men might have survived. But the fire happened at night and as any sailor who has experienced a fire onboard a small vessel knows is confusion is the first thing that happens.

    Also, manual shooting from a small vessel – less than 200 ft – in any seaway is a real guess and by golly exercise. and anyone who says the second round from a 5/38 will be down the stack is of full of it. unless he was very VERY lucky or hand carried the round to the target.

  • I did notice a lot of negative comments from what I assume were and are navy personnel, just for the record boys, we are all in this together, USCG does not normally use a lot of fire power, we rescue people and save lives, just ask someone who our pilots and sailors risk their butt for, and let us not forget, we are ONE NATION UNDER GOD, we are brothers and sisters fighting for the same things….GOD BLESS YOU ALL, AND LET US ALL STAY ONE NATION UNDER GOD!!

  • Mack

    My theory is that that they had the wrong ship and in reality it was an active ship, and after recognizing that fact they went alongside and in the finest tradition of the Coast Guard they put out the fire and rescued the crew.

  • jason fleming

    everybody on here that says that is poor marksmanship please SHUT UP! You have no idea how the CG trains or the policies they have to follow. Did you ever think thats how they were trained to shoot. I watch the video an clearly i see what they were doing. you people are retarted

  • moondog

    torpedoes are expensive compared to ammo and maybe putting the fire was just some more training exercise too

    besides the guns on CG are made for shooting people nit sinking boats