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ANCHORAGE -- The crew of a Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules dropped a data marker buoy next to the Japanese fishing vessel Ryon-un Maru, set adrift after the Japan earthquake and tsunami.

The ship has been identified as coming from Hokkaido, Japan. It is slowly drifting toward Sitka, Alaska, about 170 miles away, at about 1 mph. Currents could change.

Beside boat traffic, another concern is the ship's impact on the maritime environment after floating at sea more than a year.

What's on board is unknown. Also unknown is whether the ship is carrying fuel.

The vessel is believed to be 150 to 200 feet (46 to 61 meters) long, according to Coast Guard spokesman David Mosley.

Our main concern is maritime traffic, he said. We're trying to minimize any safety concerns, alerting vessels. We don't want any vessels to run into it.

Officials are studying various options on how to deal with the ship, including scuttling it at sea or towing it to land.


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