HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Japanese fishing boat that was washed out to see during the 2011 Japan tsunami and made its way to Oahu's Alan Davis Beach in April 2015 is finally making the journey home.
Experts say the Daini Katsu Maru drifted 5,000 miles following Japan's devastating earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, which killed more than 15,000 people and destroyed entire villages. On Saturday, efforts to return the 20-foot long boat got underway at Honolulu Harbor.
"We're thrilled that the Miyagi Maru is able to take this boat back to Ogatsu in Miyagi Prefecture," said Suzanne Case, chairwoman of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.
The boat is expected to arrive in Japan on March 11, the fifth anniversary of the tsunami that first set the boat adrift. It's final resting place will be part of a commemorative display.
DLNR has been working with the Japanese government in coordinating the boats return. Researchers at the University of Hawaii believe the boat drifted eastward for two years before getting caught up in the so-called North Pacific Garbage Patch.
"Later, when right conditions came, wind and current conditions, it was washed on Oahu," said Nikolai Maximenko, senior researcher at International Pacific Research Center and UH School of Ocean & Earth Sciences & Technology.
This Daini Katsu Maru is only the second large piece of Japanese tsunami debris item returned to the country from Hawaii. In July 2014, DLNR and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration partnered with Hawaiian Airlines to return a large wooden sign to Tanohata Village in Iwate Prefecture.
Japanese Consul General Yasushi Misawa says the boat's return symbolizes the resilience of his country.
"This will give hope to those who are still struggling for overcoming many difficulties and challenges caused by the disaster," Misawa said.
The Daini Katsu Maru will begin its trip home on Wednesday aboard the Miyagi Maru, a Japanese training vessel.