The Yomiuri Shimbun reports that a decommissioned Japan Coast Guard patrol vessel was sold to a demolition company run by the pro-North Korea General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon), without confirming that the vessel's navigation system data had been erased (h/t The Register).

The vessel, which belonged to the coast guard's 10th regional headquarters, was launched in January 1988 and was retired in 2011. When it was sold to the demolition company for scrap, the radio and weapons were removed, but the navigation data recording system was left in place.

According to the Yomiuri Shimbun, the navigation system can record up to 6,000 of the ship's coordinates -- if the system is set to record once an hour, 6,000 locations over a period of 250 days could be stored. An offical at the 10th regional headquarters told the newspaper, "The vessel was sold in a state in which information regarding operational patterns of the patrol vessel could have been obtained by some party."


Erasing such data before selling retired vessels was apparently not standard procedure, which means that similar incidents may have occured with other vessels in the past. In February, however, the coast guard began telling its regional headquarters nationwide to ensure that navigation data is removed before selling vessels in the future.