Ehime school groups petition U.S. Embassy to raise ship

Kyodo

Ehime Prefecture’s high school principals’ association and other parties submitted petitions from about 230,000 people to the U.S. Embassy on Monday asking the United States to raise the sunken Japanese fisheries training ship Ehime Maru.

The petitions were collected through elementary, junior high and high schools in the prefecture and addressed to U.S. President George W. Bush and Adm. Thomas Fargo, commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, Ehime school officials said.

The 499-ton Ehime Maru of Uwajima Fisheries High School sank off the coastal waters of Hawaii on Feb. 9 immediately after colliding with the 6,080-ton U.S. nuclear-powered submarine Greeneville, which surfaced directly beneath it.

“It’s obvious the accident was caused by the U.S. submarine,” said the petitions which were delivered to U.S. Embassy personnel in Tokyo.

The Dutch salvage firm SMIT International has said it expects to launch a salvage operation before the summer to raise the Ehime Maru.

A spokesman for the Rotterdam-based company told Kyodo News by telephone recently that the salvage operation itself could start in June or July and be concluded by the end of the summer.

Apology eases burden

HONOLULU (Kyodo) The wife of the captain of the U.S. submarine that struck and sank a Japanese fisheries training ship on Feb. 9 said Sunday her husband’s recent apology to relatives of some of the nine missing Japanese helped ease the burden he suffers.

Cmdr. Scott Waddle’s wife, Jill, told CNN television, “Finally he was able to apologize to them in person. That has helped. It’s very painful, but it’s good that (the healing process) has started.”

Waddle apologized last week to five relatives of the missing currently in Honolulu attending the U.S. Navy Court of Inquiry into the accident. His father, Dan, formerly a sea captain and a retired Air Force officer, expressed his concern that his son “would be made a scapegoat for the collision.”

He noted that the presence of Rear Adm. Isamu Ozawa of the Maritime Self-Defense Force in the inquiry is “unprecedented” and “stresses the interest and political aspects” of the proceedings.