Saturday, November 3, 2001

Navy reveals
Ehime expenses

The bill to bring the families of
the victims to Hawaii from Japan
has reached $102,604

By Gregg K. Kakesako

The U.S. Navy has spent $102,604 to bring to Hawaii 36 relatives of the people killed when the Ehime Maru was struck by nuclear submarine USS Greeneville in February.

Included in the figures released by the Navy yesterday was $20,000 to pay for mortuary costs for the eight of the nine bodies recovered so far.

Families of the victims were allotted $2,500 each to cover funeral services and the cremation of the bodies.

The Navy said $11,074 was spent on hotel bills, $23,830 on food, $900 for phone bills and $46,800 for plane fare.

The relatives were told by the Navy that they could bring up to five family members for each victim.

The Navy has paid for 36 airline round-trip tickets and up to two hotel rooms per family for no more than eight nights. The nine groups of relatives also were each given $100 phone cards.

Immediately following the Feb. 9 accident, the Pacific Command paid $32,238 for the medical bills of the 26 men and boys who survived the collision between the Greeneville and Ehime Maru on Feb. 9, nine miles south of Diamond Head.

The Pacific Command said the $32,238 covered the expense of taking the 26 survivors to local hospitals by ambulances and the initial physical exams.

Besides paying for the physical exams, the military paid for inpatient and outpatient care at several local hospitals until the survivors left.

The bills also included eye examinations and the cost of new eyeglasses.

This week, the Navy agreed to cover mental health care for the next five years for the survivors and family members of the nine victims.

Still pending are other claims filed by the families and surviving members, and another by the Ehime Prefecture in western Japan for a replacement vessel.

The Navy said no figures on the number of claims or the amount will be released at the request of the families.

The Navy has the authority to settle claims under $1 million. All claims have to be filed by Feb. 10, 2003.

Some of the victims' relatives, who are still unhappy over the Navy's explanation of the accident, are contemplating a lawsuit against the U.S. government. They also have a two-year limitation.

It cost the Navy $2 million to repair the USS Greeneville.

The Navy also is spending at least $60 million to make good on its promise to recover the bodies of the nine people who were killed in the collision. The bodies of all but one of the victims -- who included two Uwajima Fisheries High School teachers, four students and three crewmen -- have been recovered and returned to the families.

The Navy plans to keep searching for the last missing person, Takeshi Mizuguchi, 17, at least through most of next week before it prepares the Ehime Maru for its final resting place 12 miles south of Kalaeloa, formerly Barbers Point.

The Navy plans to relocate the Ehime Maru by mid-November.

The Navy made history on Oct. 14 when it successfully raised the 830-ton Ehime Maru from 2,000 feet and moved it 16 miles, bringing it to rest on the sandy, crushed-coral sea floor near the Honolulu Airport's reef runway.

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