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Sunday, 14 October, 2001, 14:36 GMT 15:36 UK
Japanese trawler salvage under way
The sunken Japanese fishing vessel, Ehime Maru
Nine bodies are thought to be trapped in the vessel
The US Navy has almost completed an operation to tow the sunken Japanese fishing vessel Ehime Maru - hit by a US submarine in February - to shallower waters.

Map showing where the accident happened
It hopes to recover the bodies of nine Japanese students and teachers believed to be trapped inside.

The 190-foot (38-metre) trawler, used to teach Japanese high-school students about the fisheries industry, sank off the Hawaiian island of Oahu when the USS Greeneville surfaced beneath it during an emergency drill.

The commander of the submarine was reprimanded at a final hearing into the accident and forced to retire.

Click here for diagram of operation

The Ehime Maru is 610 metres (2,000 feet) below the surface.

The wreckage was harnessed to a giant lifting frame suspended beneath an oil-rigger, called Rockwater 2. Once it reaches shallower waters, remotely-operated vehicles will inspect the vessel and monitor the lifting.

Rockwater 2
Length: 323 feet
Breadth: 59 feet
Weight: 5,991 tonnes

The Navy expects it will take divers about 33 days to completely search the ship for remains.

The Navy said last week that the trawler, from Uwajima, southern Japan, was not as badly damaged as first feared. It has spent $60m so far on trying to recover the victims.

There was a public outcry in Japan over the accident. Those killed were two teachers, four 17-year-old students, and three crewmen. Twenty-six people survived.

Hawaii has often been a choice spot for training voyages, as it is considered a safe destination with its calm waters and medical facilities.

In April, US Navy Commander Scott Waddle, 41, was found guilty of dereliction of duty and reprimanded for his role in the accident.




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See also:

06 Aug 01 | Americas
US to search sunken Japanese trawler
18 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
Top-level inquiry into trawler sinking
17 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
US finds sunken Japanese trawler
16 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
Sub tragedy leaves Japanese town bitter
16 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
Sub tragedy: How drill turned to disaster
15 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
Civilian: I was at crash sub's controls
14 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
Civilian was at US sub controls
13 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
Relatives visit sub collision site
12 Feb 01 | Americas
Sub victims 'to be compensated'
16 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
Sub collision prompts review
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