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The submarine USS Greeneville left a U.S. Navy base in Pearl Harbor on Wednesday for its first sea trials since it accidentally hit and sank a Japanese high school fisheries training ship on Feb. 9, navy officials said.

The cruise will consist of repeated underwater navigation and surfacing maneuvers to test whether any defects exist in the newly repaired sub’s equipment and hull due to the collision.

The sub was in dry dock for repairs between Feb. 20 and April 2.

According to the officials, Lt. Cmdr. Gerald Pfeifer, the sub’s executive officer, and Lt.j.g. Michael Coen, the officer of the deck at the time of the accident, were also on board. If the 6,080-ton Greeneville has no defects, it will participate in a six-month operation in the Western Pacific beginning in June, the officials said.

The U.S. Navy Court of Inquiry into the accident has looked into the liability of two officers aboard the sub, along with the former skipper, Cmdr. Scott Waddle.

It is expected to issue its findings and recommendations, including whether the three should be court-martialed, to Adm. Thomas Fargo, commander of the Pacific Fleet, as early as this weekend. Fargo has 30 days to review the report and decide whether to accept or reject the recommendations, or make his own findings. The 499-ton Ehime Maru sank off Hawaii after being hit by the Greeneville, which was carrying out a rapid-surfacing maneuver for civilian guests. Nine Japanese aboard the Ehime Maru, including four teenage students, were lost at sea.

Court findings on way

HONOLULU (Kyodo) The U.S. Navy Court of Inquiry into the Feb. 9 collision between the Ehime Maru and the USS Greeneville will submit its findings and recommendations to the commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet on Friday in Hawaii, navy sources said.

The court will recommend to Adm. Thomas Fargo whether Cmdr. Scott Waddle, then captain of the submarine, and two other officers should face a court-martial or other punishment over the collision with the fisheries training vessel. Nine people aboard the Ehime Maru were lost at sea. Adm. Fargo was expected to receive the findings and recommendations Friday afternoon at the Pearl Harbor Naval Base in Honolulu from the three admirals who presided over the court.

He will have 30 days to consider before ultimately deciding what action, if any, should be taken against Waddle and the other officers. The findings and recommendations were initially expected to be submitted Saturday at a U.S. Navy base in San Diego.

The submission was rescheduled due to the April 1 collision between a U.S. eavesdropping plane and a Chinese fighter over the South China Sea, according to the sources.

Adm. Fargo canceled his planned trip to San Diego to handle the case as the 24 crew members of the U.S. Navy EP-3 reconnaissance plane arrived in Honolulu on Thursday for debriefing and medical checks after being freed from detention in China.

Nine Japanese, including four teenage students and two teachers, were lost at sea when the 6,080-ton submarine hit and sank their 499-ton training ship during a rapid surfacing maneuver. The ship belonged to Uwajima Fisheries High School in Ehime Prefecture.

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