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Archive for Saturday, February 10, 2001

U.S. sub collides with Japanese fishing boat

February 10, 2001

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— A Navy submarine collided with a Japanese fishing boat carrying high school students learning to fish 9 miles off Honolulu Harbor on Friday, and nine people were missing after the boat sank.

Twenty-six survivors huddled in three life rafts and were brought ashore by the Coast Guard. Navy and Coast Guard vessels were searching for the missing people.

The USS Greeneville was on routine patrol south of Oahu when it surfaced about 1:45 p.m. and its stern collided with the fishing boat, said Lt. Cmdr. Jane Campbell, spokeswoman for Commander Navy Base, Pearl Harbor.

The submarine was not damaged, Navy spokeswoman Lt. Cmdr. Cate Mueller, said in Washington. She said the Navy has begun an investigation.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Chris Johnson said the boat sank quickly. The survivors were rescued by a 41-foot Coast Guard utility boat and a smaller Coast Guard rubber inflatable, he said.

The survivors were taken to the Coast Guard station at Honolulu Harbor's Sand Island. Some walked off on their own; others were carried on stretchers and covered in blankets.

Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Greg Fondan said none appeared to be seriously injured. A wounded shoulder appeared to be the worst injury, he said.

Twelve survivors were taken to local hospitals for treatment of minor injuries while 14 were cared for at the Coast Guard base, including showers to wash off diesel fuel, he said.

Petty Officer Thomas Kron, who was on the Coast Guard patrol boat, said the survivors, who huddled in three life rafts, were wet and soaked with diesel fuel.

"They seemed like they were in shock. They were fatigued by the time we got there. Some of them were sea sick and some of them were glad to see us," he said.

The Coast Guard identified the boat as the Ehime Maru, a 180-foot boat from a vocational fisheries high school in southwestern Japan.

Public television NHK in Japan said there were 20 crew members, plus two teachers and 13 students from the Uwajima Fisheries High School in the southwestern Japanese prefecture of Ehime.

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