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Alaska Beat

Would-be 'ghost ship' salvagers return with souvenirs

  • Author: Craig Medred
  • Updated: September 27, 2016
  • Published April 10, 2012

Vancouver's The Province reports that the captain and crew of the Canadian fishing boat Bernice C may not have been able to salvage the Japanese ghost ship which drifted on the Pacific Ocean for more than a year, but they didn't return to their home port empty-handed.

The fishermen had planned to salvage the 164-foot Ryou-Un Maru and convinced the U.S. Coast Guard last week to delay its plans to sink the drifting, unmanned hulk.

They knew almost nothing about the ship when they left to meet it, and they were granted two hours to decide whether or not they wanted to tow the boat back to port.

"Life's all about fun and adventure," Capt. Allan Ross told The Province. "There was a U.S. Coast Guard cutter and a Hercules plane keeping an eye on us. We were under the gun."

The crew boarded their potential prize, but discovered it was too far gone, with a flooded engine room and evidence that someone had beaten them to it.

"There's no doubt in my mind it was plundered at sea," said crew member Carey Collinge. "Somebody found it and plundered it."

The Bernice C returned Monday to their home port of Steveston, part of greater Vancouver, after a storm delayed them in Prince Rupert.

The only things they have to show for their 11-day trip out to the ghost ship and back were a few souvenirs such as life rings, a flag, and a miniature Shinto temple. And of course, one heck of a sea tale.

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