Ship foundThe Navy has located a sunken Japanese fishing vessel sitting upright in 2,003 feet of water.
2,000 feet down
Whether to raise the Japanese
fishing vessel, sunk by a U.S.
sub Feb. 9, is yet to be decided
By Gregg K. Kakesako
Jon Yoshishige, Pacific Fleet spokesman, said the deep-sea robot Scorpio II located the 190-foot Ehime Maru at 11:25 last night. It was found about 1,000 yards from the site where it was hit by a U.S. submarine.
Yoshishige said video cameras on the Scorpio positively identified the vessel by reading its name off of the boat's stern plate.
As of yet, no remains have been found.
Yoshishige said the Scorpio will continue to search the area today "to gather more data."
Information gathered by the Scorpio will help the Navy determine whether the 499-ton Ehime Maru can be refloated to the surface, Yoshishige said.
No decision has been made yet on raising the ship. The Scorpio has limited recovery capabilities since its two robotic arms can lift only 250 pounds each.
After being hampered by two days of rough seas, the Navy lowered the Scorpio into waters off of Diamond Head from the deck of the civilian support ship C-Commando at 2 p.m. yesterday.
A second deep-sea submersible, called Deep Drone, was to be deployed later today to augment the search. Deep Drone, flown in for the mission from Delaware, was being controlled from the USS Salvor.
The nuclear submarine USS Greeneville was demonstrating an emergency surfacing maneuver Feb. 9 about 10 miles south of Waikiki when it hit the Ehime Maru. The vessel sank within 10 minutes. Twenty six people were rescued. Nine people -- four high school students, two teachers and three crewmen -- are still missing.
A preliminary Navy report says the submarine USS Greeneville performed the surfacing maneuver that sank the Ehime Maru only because civilians were on board, KITV reported last night.
maneuver would not
have been done had
no civilians been aboard
By Gregg K. Kakesako
Cmdr. Scott Waddle, the captain of the 360-foot submarine, was performing the maneuver for 16 civilian guests when the Greeneville collided with the Japanese vessel a week ago.
Waddle has been assigned to a desk job at Pearl Harbor during the investigation. National Transportation Safety Board investigators say they plan to interview Waddle this weekend.
KITV said the finding is part of a preliminary Navy report into the accident that is being reviewed by Adm. Thomas Fargo, Pacific Fleet commander. Fargo has several options: He could ask for more information before taking action, he could convene a board of inquiry to take sworn statements or he could move directly toward a court-martial. Waddle faces the possibility of criminal charges depending on what Fargo decides.
Jon Yoshishige, Fargo's spokesman at Pearl Harbor, said the Navy would have no comment on the televised report.
He reiterated that a news conference would be held when Fargo completes his review.
Navy critics, including many Japanese leaders and citizens, say the drill amounted to a joy ride for 16 VIPs and resulted in the deaths of nine fishermen.
The television station said it was told that the preliminary report shows that there were no mechanical problems with the sub and that officers performed several 360-degree searches with the periscope before it surfaced.
Two civilians who were on the Greeneville that day said crew members had scanned the surface with a periscope several times and had seen no vessel. One visitor said Waddle himself made at least one 360-degree sweep.
The crew did follow procedures, KITV said, citing the report, but later investigations are expected to focus on how thoroughly the procedures were followed. Investigators have to determine whether the crew only made a quick check with its sonar or whether a careful assessment was made to detect the possibility of any ships on the surface.
Earlier this week, the captain of the Ehime Maru told investigators that his ship was moving at 11 knots or 12 1/2 mph, heading south-southeast.
Navy investigators reportedly found that the civilian visitors did not create any major distractions.
ABC News said the Navy's preliminary report leaves open the question of how high the periscope was raised. This is critical because it dictates the range the captain and his watch officer would have had.
At issue is why Waddle apparently failed to see the Japanese fishing vessel either through the periscope or by using the ship's sonar before it descended and performed the emergency surfacing maneuver.
The report apparently said the Greeneville did search for survivors, but the rough seas may have hampered that effort.
The NTSB said submarine crew members told investigators that there had been sonar contacts of vessels before the collision, said board member John Hammerschmidt. But Hammerschmidt said investigators did not want to release any more information about the contacts until they finish interviewing crew members.
Interviews will be conducted with two more sonar operators. NTSB officials also hope to speak with the fire control plotter, who processes sonar data into situational awareness for the crew, Hammerschmidt said.
Board members completed interviews with the sonar supervisor, sonar operator and broad-band operator of the USS Greeneville Thursday.
Toxicological tests on 25 members of the USS Greeneville and three members of the Ehime Maru came back negative for drugs and alcohol, he said.
Four of the 16 civilians on board the Greeneville at the time of the collision were interviewed by phone from Washington, D.C., yesterday. "We want to complete the interview process before reporting on those interviews," said Hammerschmidt.
Some members of the NTSB were expected to go to the Submarine Base at Pearl Harbor this morning for simulator exercises to view immersing surfacing procedures. The simulator can also imitate sea conditions such as the roughness of the ocean, Hammerschmidt said.
Hammerschmidt said reports prepared by investigators will be placed in a public docket later in the year. A final report is expected to be issued in 12 to 15 months, he said.
Star-Bulletin reporter Rosemarie Bernardo
contributed to this report.
The nine missing people from the Japanese fishing vessel that sank Feb. 9 off Hawaii include four students from Uwajima Fisheries High School, two instructors and three crew members of the Ehime Maru. They are:
Nine missing people
Katsuya Nomoto, 17, student.
Yusuke Terata, 17, student.
Takeshi Mizuguchi, 17, student.
Toshiya Sakashima, 17, student.
Jun Nakata, 33, instructor.
Hiroshi Makisawa, 37, instructor.
Toshimishi Furuya, 47, chief engineer.
Hiroshi Nishida, 49, first engineer.
Hirotaka Segawa, 60, communications chief.
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WASHINGTON -- For the National Transportation Safety Board, the spotlight of publicity is the only real power it has to force changes meant to prevent accidents. The Navy can order changes but would rather wait until the facts are in before talking about results.
differ in openness
By Jonathan D. Salant
The contrasting approaches are starkly evident in the agencies' separate investigations into how a U.S. submarine hit and sank a Japanese fishing vessel off Hawaii.
"It's more a matter of different cultures," said Michele Flournoy, a senior adviser with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank. "The military tends to want to have the whole story and make sure they have the story right before they go public. The NTSB has a different culture: Even when you don't have much to say, say something."
NTSB officials say their credibility lies in a willingness to conduct investigations in the open, sharing information with the public as it develops.
"The strength of our ability to actively improve transportation safety is based on our reputation for openness, evenhandedness and technical accuracy," agency spokesman Ted Lopatkiewicz said. "The way to do that is to make your investigation as transparent as possible."
Former NTSB Chairman Jim Hall acknowledged that tensions may arise between the board and the military during investigations.
"The best procedure is to cooperate with the investigative agency and provide all the information," Hall said. "It is their responsibility to provide that information to the public."
But it sometimes has gone the other way: The Navy didn't tell the NTSB that civilians were at two control stations when the USS Greeneville smashed into the Ehime Maru.
Rear Adm. Stephen Pietropaoli, the Navy's chief of information, said the service and the NTSB have different roles and therefore different policies regarding the release of information.
"We not only have to find out what happens, we're responsible for making it work afterward," he said. "It's critical for us, as both the investigators and the people who have to make it right, that we safeguard the integrity of the process, or we could be constrained in what steps we can take later.
"It's different. I know it's difficult for people to understand."
Some noted that the Navy, while it may not release details, isn't covering up, either. "Most Americans know what happened," said Michael O'Hanlon, a senior fellow with the Brookings Institution, another Washington think tank. "It's just an incredibly regrettable and preventable human tragedy."