Tuesday, January 8, 2002

Ehime Maru services
in Japan may draw 1,200

By Gregg K. Kakesako

More than 1,200 people, including U.S. Ambassador to Japan Howard Baker, are expected to attend a memorial service for the victims of the Ehime Maru on Thursday in the victims' hometown of Uwajima.

Nine people, including four students of Uwajima Fisheries High School, were killed when the Ehime Maru was rammed by the attack submarine USS Greeneville on Feb. 9 nine miles south of Diamond Head.

The bodies of eight of the victims were recovered in an unprecedented $60 million naval salvage operation last year. Once the recovery operations were completed in November, the Ehime Maru was moved to the deep waters off Kalaeloa and sunk.

On Dec. 20, 121 boxes of personal belongings recovered from the 190-foot fisheries training vessel were turned over to the families.

The Uwajima government hopes to complete and dedicate a granite memorial to the victims by the first anniversary of the tragedy. The memorial will be located in Kakaako Waterfront Park and will feature an anchor recovered from the Ehime Maru.

Attending Thursday's service will be the victims' families, students of Uwajima Fisheries High School and other guests. The host of the service is the government of Ehime prefecture.

Other U.S. officials expected are Consul General Robert Ludan; Rear Adm. Robert C. Chaplin, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Japan; and Rear Adm. William R. Klemm, former deputy chief of staff for fleet maintenance, Pacific Fleet, now deputy commander for logistics, maintenance and industrial operations at the Naval Sea Systems Command.

Klemm was in charge of the Navy's six-month operation, which included lifting and moving the Ehime Maru to shallower waters and the underwater search that involved about 80 people -- including divers from the U.S. Navy and Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force.

Japanese officials invited include Minister of Education and Science Atsuko Toyama and Self-Defense Agency Director General Gen Nakatani.

Photos of the nine victims will be displayed on an altar decorated with flowers.

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