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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, February 10, 2006

A moment of silence, five years later

By Audrey McAvoy
Associated Press

Relatives of victims of the Ehime Maru tragedy gathered yesterday at the memorial at Kaka'ako Waterfront Park. Five years ago, a U.S. Navy submarine collided with the vessel off O'ahu, killing nine people.

LUCY PEMONI | Associated Press

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Mourners pray for the victims of the Ehime Maru tragedy at a memorial at the Uwajima Fisheries High School in Uwajima, Japan.

Kyodo News via Associated Press

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The families of three people who died when a Navy submarine rammed into a Japanese fishing vessel five years ago gathered yesterday at a park overlooking the Pacific where their loved ones perished.

The mothers, fathers, daughters and sons of the victims bowed their heads for a moment of silence at 1:43 p.m. the same time the USS Greeneville hit the Ehime Maru on Feb. 9, 2001.

Tatsuyoshi Mizuguchi said he has visited Hawai'i 15 times since the collision, to be near his son, Takeshi. The 17-year-old was the only one of the nine who died whose body wasn't found after the collision some 13 miles off O'ahu.

"My son never came home. So I want to be as close to him as possible," Mizuguchi said before the brief ceremony at the Ehime Maru Memorial at Kaka'ako Waterfront Park.

The families and their supporters draped lei around steel posts at the site in honor of the dead. The U.S. Pacific Fleet Submarine Force sent red anthuriums.

The families later tossed flower petals and chocolate into the sea in an offering to Takeshi Mizuguchi.

The teenager boarded the Ehime Maru with fellow students and instructors from Uwajima Fisheries High School for a training mission on how to fish. There were 35 people on board.

Takako Segawa, daughter of the boat's radio operator, Hirotaka Segawa, recalled that her father once said he may go down with his ship if it ever ran into trouble because it was his job to signal for help.

"There were witness accounts of him in the control room, so I suspect he was radioing for help until the end," Segawa said.

A Navy investigation found the Greeneville hit the Ehime Maru after the submarine's captain, Scott Waddle, failed to properly use sonar and periscopes to look for nearby ships before surfacing.

Correction: The photo of mourners at a memorial to the victims of the 2001 Ehime Maru tragedy was taken in Uwajima, Japan. The caption with the photo was incorrect in a previous version of this story.