Ehime Maru nearing site for recovery
|||Ex-Navy chief Waddle searching for atonement|
|||Online special: Collision at Sea: Ehime Maru and Greeneville|
By Karen Blakeman
Advertiser Staff Writer
Rockwater 2 moved the sunken Ehime Maru to within less than 2 nautical miles of the planned shallow-water recovery site yesterday, Navy officials said.
Divers could begin recovering bodies early this week.
Lt. Cmdr. Gregg Baumann, a salvage engineer for the Navy's Sea Systems Command, said that by noon yesterday the Ehime Maru was at the foot of a steep incline leading up to the shallow-water recovery area near Honolulu International Airport's reef runway.
Crews continued to engineer the move up the incline last night and this morning. They towed the sunken ship in step motions, moving it up, then in toward the wall of the incline, then up again toward an underwater plateau.
The towing vessel was moving the Ehime Maru very slowly, being careful to keep the ship level, Baumann said.
Part of the procedure should be completed sometime today, the Navy said.
At the planned recovery site, the Ehime Maru will be settled onto the sea floor beneath 115 feet of water, where it will be allowed to rest undisturbed for at least 24 hours.
Once recovery teams are certain the Japanese fisheries training ship will remain stable, American and Japanese divers will approach it to remove fishing wire and other hazardous items, Baumann said.
The divers will then begin recovering the remains of five crew members and four high school students who were aboard the Ehime Maru on Feb. 9, when the USS Greeneville accidentally rammed and sank it.