Monday, April 16, 2001

Ehime Maru sinking

Japanese families
to sue over
sub collision

An official says the suits
will reveal more information
about the accident

By Gregg K. Kakesako

The Navy will be sued by some of the relatives of the nine Japanese killed when the training ship Ehime Maru was rammed by the nuclear submarine USS Greeneville two months ago, according to a government official in Japan.

Ehime Gov. Moriyuki Kato said today the families believe the lawsuits are needed to discover more about the accident.

Other relatives of the nine lost in the collision off Hawaii could seek compensation through direct negotiations with the Navy. The Navy last week began compensation talks with the relatives of the 35 passengers and crewmen.

A Navy official here said acting Secretary of the Navy Robert Pirie is authorized to make payments up to $1 million. Anything above that has to be coordinated with Congress.

Last week, six U.S. Navy officials visited Uwajima in Ehime Prefecture, where the Ehime Maru was based, to explain the compensation process.

The nine, whose bodies were never found, are four 17-year-old students from the Uwajima Fisheries High School, two teachers and three crew.

In a related development, Greeneville skipper Cmdr. Scott Waddle told Time magazine, "I am not tired of apologizing. But I am tired of crying. It kills me that nine people died because of an accident."

"I didn't cause the accident. I gave the orders that resulted in the accident. And I take full responsibility. I would give my life if it meant one of those nine lives lost could be brought back."

Adm. Thomas Fargo, Pacific Fleet commander, is studying a 2,000-page report from three U.S. senior admirals who investigated the collision.

There have been reports that Waddle and two other Greeneville officers are unlikely to face court-martial. The final determination will be made by Fargo.

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