FBI looking into 'debris' found off Alaska's coast

Mar. 2—The FBI said it will help with "debris" recovery after a CNN news report Friday that a "possible spy balloon" may have been discovered in the waters off the coast of Alaska, according to a statement from the FBI field office in Anchorage.

"The FBI is aware of debris found off the coast of Alaska by a commercial fishing vessel. We will work with our partners to assist with the logistics of the debris recovery," the FBI said in a statement emailed by Chloe Martin, a spokesperson for the field office.

Along with the FBI, the U.S. Coast Guard and Alaska National Guard are also "helping facilitate the transfer" of the object so it can be analyzed further, according to Alan Brown, a spokesman with the Alaska National Guard.

Details about the discovery are limited. It's possible that the item found by fishermen is not a spy balloon, according to the CNN report.

Martin and Brown declined to answer questions about the incident, including where in Alaska the debris might have been discovered.

Citing anonymous sources, CNN reported that commercial fishermen in Alaska had discovered what officials believe might be a spy balloon. The fishermen shared photographs of the item with law enforcement and are bringing it to shore, the news report said. FBI agents will meet the fishing vessel when it reaches port and transport the item for analysis to the FBI lab in Quantico, Virginia, CNN reported.

Last year, a Chinese surveillance balloon was spotted over Alaska before it journeyed over Canada and the Lower 48. A U.S. fighter jet shot it down off the coast of South Carolina at the orders of the Biden administration. China insisted the flyover was an accident involving a civilian craft.

Soon afterward, the military shot down other unidentified, high-altitude objects, including when a U.S. fighter jet shot down an object flying off the Arctic coast of Alaska.

U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan of Alaska last year raised questions about why the surveillance balloon was not shot down more quickly.

On Friday, an official with Sullivan's office said the senator is looking into the discovery of the unknown object.

Murkowski is tracking the event, her office said.

"My team and I have been briefed on the matter and are monitoring it closely," a spokesperson from her office said. "We want to thank the USCG, FBI, and Alaska National Guard for coordinating the recovery efforts of this item of national interest."