Navy meets Ehime Maru families

The U.S. Navy on Wednesday held a meeting in Tokyo for relatives of victims in last year’s fatal collision between the Ehime Maru, a Japanese fisheries training ship, and the U.S. submarine Greeneville off Hawaii.

The private meeting at a U.S. military facility was held at the request of lawyers representing the families of two Japanese who died in the accident — Yusuke Terata, a 17-year-old student, and Toshimichi Furuya, 47, the Ehime Maru’s chief engineer.

Before the meeting, the counsel, led by Makoto Toyoda, filed questions with the Navy such as how the nuclear-powered submarine hit the training ship.

Navy Rear Adm. Robert Chaplin, the commander of U.S. naval forces in Japan, explained the disaster at the meeting.

The relatives apparently asked about why the sub failed to correctly locate the Ehime Maru and other errors by Greeneville skipper Scott Waddle. Waddle was reprimanded by the Navy for his role in the accident and retired in October 2001.

The Greeneville hit the ship while conducting a rapid surfacing maneuver as part of a demonstration for civilian guests onboard. The relatives apparently asked the Navy to stop using its submarines for entertainment purposes.

Besides Terata and Furuya, seven others aboard the 499-ton Ehime Maru were killed when it was struck from below by the 6,080-ton Greeneville on Feb. 9, 2001.

Apart from the counsel for Terata and Furuya, lawyers representing families of seven victims and 26 survivors from the ship earlier expressed their intention to agree to Navy compensation totaling some $13 million.