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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, January 10, 2002

Ehime Maru crew eulogized

Associated Press

TOKYO — Nearly 1,200 people offered silent prayers in a seaside village today during a service for nine people killed when a U.S. Navy submarine sliced through their Japanese fisheries training ship in Hawai'i last year.

U.S. Ambassador Howard Baker and Japanese Defense Agency chief Gen Nakatani were among the dignitaries honoring the dead, whose large portraits hung over the stage as the school song played in their memory.

Nine men and teenage boys aboard the Ehime Maru died Feb. 9 when their vessel from the Uwajima Fisheries High School was rammed by the USS Greeneville nine miles south of O'ahu. Twenty-six others were rescued.

Divers recovered eight bodies in October. The body of Takeshi Mizuguchi, 17, remained missing when an underwater search was called off Nov. 15.

His father, Tatsuyoshi Mizuguchi, eulogized the victims at today's ceremony in the Ehime Maru's home port of Uwajima, about 420 miles southwest of Tokyo.

Eight survivors who suffer disorders such as insomnia, nausea and loss of appetite laid wreaths a day earlier at the memorial hall to avoid the added stress from a public appearance, organizer Keiji Ono said.

Today's event came ahead of the anniversary because local officials are planning a Feb. 9 dedication of a Honolulu waterfront monument overlooking the collision site.

The USS Greeneville rammed the Ehime Maru as the nuclear sub demonstrated an emergency surfacing drill for 16 civilian guests.

Participants in today's memorial service in Japan also included Rear Adm. Robert Chaplin, commander of U.S. Naval Forces in Japan, and Rear Adm. William Klemm, who led the raising of the sunken wreck.

As mourners prayed, 17 students from the Uwajima fisheries school embarked on a similar training voyage to the same waters where the Ehime Maru sank. They joined students from another school on their training ship and plan to return in March, Ono said.