[CP-List] They Just Stood and Watched

Jeffrey St. Clair sitka@home.com
Mon, 12 Feb 2001 13:18:24 -0800
US crew 'stood and watched' as trawler sank

By Richard Lloyd Parry in Tokyo

12 February 2001

The crew of an American submarine which surfaced under a
Japanese trawler, stood and watched as its passengers
struggled into lifeboats, but did nothing to save them, the
captain of the fishing boat said yesterday.

"Not one was rescued by the submarine crew," said Hisao
Onishi, captain of the Ehime Maru, which sank on Saturday
off the coast of the Hawaiian island of Oahu when the 6,000
ton USS Greeneville smashed into it as it rose to the
surface. Nine people, including four children from a
Japanese fisheries technical school, are still missing.

"I could see several people on the tower," Mr Onishi said.
"They lowered a rope ladder from the conning tower, but none
of our crew members were rescued by the submarine... They
were just looking until the Coast Guard arrived."

Admiral Thomas Fargo, commander in chief of the United
States Pacific Fleet, said that the condition of the sea -
waves of three to four feet, with a six-foot swell - made it
too dangerous for the submarine's crew to open hatches to
take survivors on board. But the 26 survivors of the
accident reported that despite the choppy seas, no water
entered their lifeboats.

The tragedy comes at a bad time for relations between Japan
and the US military. Last week the commander of the American
troops stationed in the southern Japanese island of Okinawa
made an embarrassing apology after the publication of an
e-mail in which he referred to local leaders as "nuts" and
"wimps".

"There was a violent collision, or I should say there was a
very loud noise and a jolt that seemed to lift our stern
up," Captain Onishi said. "We heard two cracking noises. I
could not see any other ships in the area, and I looked
around, thinking we might have hit a floating object." The
hull of the ship appears to have split open, and it sank in
less than 10 minutes.

As hope of finding the missing diminished, the Japanese
Prime Minister, Yoshiro Mori, asked the US government to
consider raising the vessel from the sea bed 550 metres
below. "The rescue of the nine missing people should be
considered first," he said. "If they have not been
discovered through searches on the surface of the sea,
everybody would like to know about the inside [of the
trawler]."

The submarine tragedy has dominated the news in Japan all
weekend. Yesterday it turned into a political embarrassment
for Mr Mori after it emerged that he spent two hours playing
golf with old college friends after being informed of the
tragedy.



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