NEW SHOREHAM, R.I. — The Coast Guard in Rhode Island is trying to stop people using buoys as target practice, saying shooting at the navigational aids may be fun, but it's also a federal crime.

A crew recently found a buoy that been shot and sunk near Block Island. They say the six-ton buoy had 20 bullet holes.

The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Ida Lewis observe a submerged buoy in the water off Block Island, R.I., on April 24, 2017. The Ida Lewis is a 175-foot buoy tender homeported in Newport, R.I.

Photo Credit: Chief Warrant Officer 3 Patrick Morkis/Coast Guard

Senior Chief Petty Officer Timothy Chase says the sunken buoy itself became a navigational hazard. He says it could have easily damaged boats and put people at risk.

Chase says it's the second navigational aid discovered with bullet holes in one week.

The Coast Guard says damaging buoys is a crime that could be punished by up to 20 years in prison.