MATSUYAMA, Ehime Pref. – A newly built fisheries training ship set sail Wednesday on a maiden voyage to Hawaii, where its predecessor, the Ehime Maru, sank in February 2001 when it was struck by a U.S. Navy submarine.
The new 499-ton Ehime Maru weighed anchor at around noon and steamed away from Uwajima, Ehime Prefecture, while students, teachers and crew members on board bade farewell to well-wishers gathered at the pier.
Half of the 26 survivors of the 2001 accident — 12 sailors from the old Ehime Maru and a special studies student at Uwajima Fisheries High School, which lost four students in the accident — are on the trip.
Fourteen students and two teachers are taking part in the two-month training mission, designed to teach students the skills of tuna fishing off Hawaii. Twenty crew members are also aboard the ship.
As in previous training missions organized by Uwajima Fisheries High School, the vessel will make a port call in Hawaii around mid-June.
While in Honolulu, members of the vessel plan to visit the Ehime Maru monument in Kaka’ako Waterfront Park and lay flowers in memory of the accident victims.
The new Ehime Maru has the same tonnage as its predecessor, which sank Feb. 9, 2001, when it was rammed from below by the nuclear-powered USS Greeneville, which was performing a rapid-surfacing drill.
Five sailors and four students died in the accident and 26 others were rescued.