• Kyodo

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A plane carrying 20 Maritime Self-Defense Force personnel landed Monday in Hawaii, delivering a team that will participate in the salvage of the Japanese fisheries training ship that was sunk in February by a surfacing U.S. Navy submarine, according to MSDF officials.

Some of the team aboard the P-3C Orion are expected to advise and facilitate communications between the U.S. Navy and the MSDF divers, who will be working together to retrieve the remains of the missing, who are believed to be entombed inside the ship’s hull.

The navy is preparing to lift the Ehime Maru from its resting place 600 meters beneath the surface and transport it to a site where the seabed is just 30 meters below the surface.

Divers will then attempt to retrieve the remains of nine Japanese, including four high school students, who were not found after the collision, as well as other Ehime Maru artifacts.

The Japanese submarine rescue ship Chihaya is making its way to Hawaii, transporting 130 MSDF crew members, 30 of whom are divers. The 5,450-ton ship is expected to arrive in Hawaii on Aug. 20.

Divers are likely to begin searching the Ehime Maru in the shallow water site at the beginning of next month.

Nine of the 35 Japanese aboard the Ehime Maru were lost after the ship was struck and sunk by the USS Greeneville about 14 km off Diamond Head on Feb. 9, when the submarine conducted a rapid-surfacing maneuver for a group of civilian visitors aboard.

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