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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, October 19, 2001

Second body identified, two more recovered from Ehime Maru

Video of recovery divers searching the Ehime Maru (4Mb). QuickTime plug-in required.
 •  Interactive graphics on the diving recovery operation and how the Ehime Maru was moved to shallower waters
 •  Advertiser special: Collision at Sea

By Tanya Bricking
Advertiser Staff Writer

Katsuya Nomoto was the son of a fisherman, the only one of three brothers who wanted to take over the family fishing business in the industrial harbor town of Uwajima, Japan, where he lived near the bay in a cramped house next to aunts, uncles and cousins.

Katsuya Nomoto, 17, was one of nine people who died when the USS Greeneville accidentally rammed the Ehime Maru on Feb. 9.

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A cousin at Uwajima Fisheries High School had been with him aboard the Ehime Maru on a training excursion that was supposed to teach them the skills of their fathers.

The cousin returned to Uwajima. The 17-year-old Nomoto never did. His was the second body identified this week in the Navy's $60 million recovery effort of the Japanese ship that sank eight months ago. Nine people died when the Navy submarine USS Greeneville slammed into the Ehime Maru's hull.

Kanthi von Guenthner, Honolulu chief medical examiner, used dental records yesterday to identify Nomoto, just as she had done to identify Hirotaka Segawa, the ship's 60-year-old chief radio officer.

"I'd like to tell him, 'You're finally coming home,' " said Akiko Nomoto, Katsuya's mother, from her home in Uwajima, the Kyodo News agency reported.

Divers recovered two more bodies yesterday, but they have not yet been identified. Based on accounts of survivors, the Navy expects to find five to seven bodies.

The medical examiner has victims' dental records and DNA samples from families if remains must be identified forensically.

The Navy is making arrangements to bring victims' families to Hawai'i to claim remains.

A few family members already are here, along with the Ehime Maru's captain, Hisao Onishi. Onishi has been assisting searchers from the barge that serves as the command center and temporary home of 66 divers. He has been answering divers' questions about the layout of the ship and where specific items might be.

Divers have not yet retrieved personal items, such as Nomoto's glasses or the yellow T-shirt he bought for his girlfriend that might be somewhere in the wreckage.

Structurally, the Ehime Maru is relatively intact. Items such as mattresses, tables and lockers have become dislodged, and divers must move debris before reaching victims. About 15 percent of the ship has been searched.

Despite the sadness of finding bodies, divers are holding up well, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Gregg Baumann said.

"Some of the dive members have been involved in some of the large aircraft disasters in the past and have had experience with this, and as such are assisting some of the other divers," he said. "Overall, the divers are handling it very professionally, with integrity, and with the upmost dignity and respect for those who lost their lives on the Ehime Maru."

Reach Tanya Bricking at tbricking@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8026.