- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 2, 2001

HONOLULU (Agence France-Presse) — The U.S. Navy expressed confidence yesterday it will be able to raise a sunken Japanese fisheries training vessel this month, despite a series of technical setbacks.
The construction ship Rockwater 2 was on its way back to port here to load a replacement lifting strap for the stern of the Ehime Maru, after the strap snapped during a lift maneuver Friday.
"We are very confident that with the replacement rig we will be able to lift the stern of the vessel and place the cables which will be used to place lifting plates under the Ehime Maru," said Navy public affairs officer Commander David Wray, speaking in Pearl Harbor.
The United States is involved in efforts to raise the vessel and recover the remains of nine Japanese men and boys lost when the Japanese fisheries training vessel was rammed and sunk by the nuclear-powered submarine USS Greeneville on Feb. 9.
Friday's hitch was the latest in a series of problems encountered in this unprecedented attempt to raise such a large vessel from 2,000 feet of water.
The effort is driven by the United States' desire to placate public opinion in Japan in the wake of the embarrassing tragedy, and to provide closure for families of those missing.
Last month a plan to place cables by drilling tunnels under the sunken vessel in the $40 million operation had to be abandoned.
Instead, the Navy and its contractor decided to raise the stern of the fisheries ship high enough for underwater robots to pull the cables in place.
Crews' concern that one of the cables was not in position led to a new attempt to lift the stern.
At that point, just after 6 p.m. on Friday, the stern lift strap broke while the ship was about 24 feet off the sea floor.
However, no additional damage occurred, according to Cmdr. Wray.


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