Families of nine Japanese killed when U.S. sub hit fishing ship to visit salvage area

Tuesday, October 23rd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

HONOLULU (AP) _ The families of the nine Japanese men and boys who were killed when their fishing ship was struck by a U.S. submarine will visit the area where Navy divers are working to recover the remains.

Lt. Cmdr. Neil Sheehan said officials would take the families by boat to view the salvage area near the Honolulu International Airport on Tuesday.

Six bodies have been recovered by U.S. and Japanese divers. The Navy says it's unlikely more than seven bodies will be found.

About 45 percent of the Ehime Maru had been searched as of Monday, said Capt. Christopher Murray, the Navy's supervisor of diving. The search of the entire vessel should be completed within 10 days, although divers will continue to search the wreckage after that to recover personal effects, he said.

On Monday night, Toshio Kojima, Japan's parliamentary secretary for foreign affairs, repeated an earlier statement of gratitude to the Navy for going through with the recovery operation despite turmoil caused by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The five men and four boys from Uwajima Fisheries High School were killed on Feb. 9 when the Ehime Maru was hit by the USS Greeneville during an emergency surfacing drill. Twenty-six others who had been aboard the ship were rescued.

The Ehime Maru sank in 2,000 feet of water about 15 miles offshore, and was towed to shallower water near Honolulu International Airport so divers could recover the bodies.