The U.S. Navy reached a settlement Thursday in Tokyo over a deadly collision last year off Hawaii involving one of its submarines and a Japanese high school fisheries training ship.
The settlement was made with relatives of seven of the nine people killed and the 26 survivors in the sinking of the 499-ton Emime Maru, which was struck by the USS Greeneville on Feb. 9, 2001, as the 8,000-ton sub was performing a rapid surfacing drill for civilian guests on board.
The settlement, which included compensation for injuries the survivors sustained, was signed at the U.S. Embassy by the navy and lawyers representing the 26 survivors and the next of kin of seven of the people who died. The families were not present for the signing.
Although the lawyers have not disclosed the terms of the compensation, sources familiar with the case said the U.S. Navy is expected to pay the 33 families a total of about $13.9 million, equivalent to around 1.68 billion yen.
The amount includes compensation for the fatalities and the costs of medical treatment for the survivors, including for posttraumatic stress disorder, the sources said.
The survivors include 17 crew members and nine students. The seven people killed covered by the settlement include three students, two teachers and two crew members.
Lawyers representing relatives of the two other people who died — a student and a crew member — are continuing negotiations.
Under U.S. law, the time limit for the navy to be able to negotiate a settlement under its own discretion is up to two years from the time of an incident until payment is made.
Retired Cmdr. Scott Waddle, the skipper of the submarine at the time of the accident, will visit Japan next month to apologize to the next of kin of the two other victims, said Makoto Toyoda, a lawyer for the relatives.
Toyoda said Waddle will visit Uwajima on Dec. 15, the day after he arrives in Japan, to apologize to the two families. The lawyer said if other families also want to meet Waddle, he will discuss the matter with the former skipper.
A navy court of inquiry handed Waddle a letter of reprimand in April 2001 for the fatal collision and he was honorably discharged on Sept. 16 the same year.
The navy searched inside the Ehime Maru from October to November 2001 and retrieved the bodies of all but one of the victims.
On Oct. 23, the navy held a meeting in Tokyo for relatives of the Ehime Maru victims to explain how the accident occurred.
Test drive for new ship
MATSUYAMA, Ehime Pref. (Kyodo) A new vessel built for fisheries students as a replacement for the training ship that sank off Hawaii last year sailed out of a dock in Imabari, Ehime Prefecture, for a test cruise Thursday.
The new ship replaces the Ehime Maru, the Uwajima Fisheries High School ship that sank after it was struck by a U.S. submarine, killing nine Japanese.
The test cruise is being conducted as a part of a production inspection. On board were crew members of the Ehime Maru, including Hidao Onishi, the 60-year-old captain of the ill-fated ship.
The new ship left the dock at around 6 a.m. and was to cruise around the Seto Inland Sea before returning to the dock Friday evening.
Work on the replacement ship began in April, when the United States paid the prefecture $11.47 million (about 1.38 billion yen) in compensation, part of which is being used to fund the 1.11 billion yen ship.
The training ship is slated to be fully fitted out around the end of this month, when it will be handed over to the prefecture. It will go into operation after completing a trial voyage between January and March, a prefectural official said.
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