GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM|
Funded and maintained by local civic groups, a memorial honoring the ill-fated Ehime Maru crew overlooks the ocean at Kakaako. Flowers graced the memorial yesterday.
New Ehime Maru
due at Aloha Tower
Local dignitaries and Saint Louis
students will welcome the ship
More than 28 months ago, Daisuke Shinoto sat on the deck of a Japanese fisheries training vessel with 12 other students and two teachers from Uwajima Fisheries High School and 20 sailors as it steamed into Honolulu Harbor for three days of rest and shopping.
A few days later, on Feb. 9, 2001, just after 1:50 p.m., the fishing vessel Ehime Maru was struck from below by the USS Greeneville, a 6,000-ton, Los Angeles-class, fast-attack submarine, just nine miles south of Diamond Head.
Within 10 minutes the 499-ton fishing vessel slipped below the waves as the captain of the Greeneville, Cmdr. Scott Waddle, watched through the sub's periscope. Nine people -- four 17-year-old students, two teachers and three crewmen -- perished.
This morning, Shinoto, 19, returns on a replacement ship with the same name. "I want to tell them that we're back with a new ship," said Shinoto when the new Ehime Maru left the port of Uwajima, located about 420 miles southwest of Tokyo, on May 7 with 14 students, two teachers and 20 crewmen.
The vessel was built at a cost of $9.25 million as part of a compensation package the Navy agreed to with the families of the victims, survivors and the Uwajima high school. Last year, the families of the 35 victims agreed to a $16.5 million settlement.
This morning's one-hour welcoming ceremony at the Aloha Tower's Pier 9 is co-sponsored by the Japan America Society and the Ehime Maru Memorial Association, both headed by Earl Okawa.
GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM|
Doris Doughty and her husband, Harry, of Sierra Vista, Ariz., stopped during their walk at Kakaako Waterfront Park yesterday afternoon to read the inscription on the memorial dedicated to the victims of the Ehime Maru accident.
In his prepared remarks,
Okawa was to talk about the relationships between the students of Saint Louis School in Kaimuki and the Uwajima Fisheries High School that formed after the collision. The Saint Louis students, who are members of the school's Japanese club, headed by teacher Rika Inaba, have maintained a memorial in Kakaako. The memorial was unveiled on the first anniversary of the collision.
Okawa said two teams of 11- to 15-year-old baseball players traveled to Uwajima last November to play in a series of goodwill games.
"There are plans now to host junior baseball players from Uwajima here in the near future," he added.
Other speakers were to be Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona; Kazumitsu Joko, principal of Uwajima Fisheries High School; Japanese Consul General Masatoshi Muto; Saint Louis students Ahren Miura and Camille Makita-Simone; and Jon Santiago, representing the Hawaii Junior Baseball team.
Okawa said the ceremony this morning was "to welcome the Ehime Maru on its maiden voyage. It will be very simple and low key in keeping with the wishes of those coming to Hawaii.
"They want to be left alone," added Okawa, who said he realizes that there may be other groups or individuals who want to do something for the Japanese students.
"Even their visit to the memorial later this week will be private," Okawa added.
The Coast Guard granted permission for a welcoming flotilla of yachts, canoes and commercial vessels to greet the Ehime Maru as it enters Honolulu Harbor. Dave Lyman, one of the event organizers and a member of the Hawaii Pilots Association, said "the response has been outstanding."
Saint Louis students strung kukui nuts and red and blue beads into a lei that was to be draped over the bow of the Ehime Maru before it docks at Aloha Tower. The ship will be here for a week.
The original Ehime Maru rests 12 1/2 miles off Kalaeloa in 8,000 feet of water. Its location is marked only by a pinging signal device.
The bodies of eight of the nine victims were recovered in a $60 million Navy salvage operation. Waddle was reprimanded by a military court of inquiry but allowed to retire that same year with his full rank and pension. That action by the Navy sparked major criticism in Japan.