Navy court to investigate USS Greeneville's top officers
Wreck site less than a kilometer from collision site
HONOLULU, Hawaii (CNN) -- U.S. Navy Adm. Tom Fargo recommended a court of inquiry into the sub collision of February 9 that sunk the Ehime Maru, a Japanese ship. The investigation will examine the conduct of the USS Greeneville's top three officers.
The court will meet on February 21 in Pearl Harbor, Fargo said.
The Navy also released the names of the 16 civilians aboard the submarine at the time of the collision. (list of civilians names)
Earlier,the U.S. Navy, using a remote-operated vehicle, located the Japanese ship at the bottom of the Pacific, officials said Saturday.
U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Conrad Chun said the Ehime Maru was found by the ROV Scorpio II "sitting nearly upright in approximately 2,000 feet (610 meters) of water" in the Pacific Ocean.
The wreck came to rest on the ocean floor about 1,000 yards (less than a kilometer) from the collision site reported by the USS Greeneville, Chun said.
Nine people from the 55-meter (180-foot), 500-ton Japanese ship, which was carrying high school students on a research trip, are still missing; 26 others were pulled from life rafts soon after the collision.
The four students, along with three teachers and two crew members, are presumed dead.
Family members seek answers
The Greeneville hit the Ehime Maru about 16 kilometers (10 miles) south of Diamond Head, near Honolulu, on February 9.
At the time, the Greeneville was performing a rapid ascent, or "emergency blow," with two civilians in key watch positions on the sub. They were allowed to operate controls on the sub under the supervision of Navy crew members, the Navy said.
Family members of those still missing held an emotional news conference on Friday, expressing both their sadness and anger.
"My son was a kind and peace-loving person. One of his wishes was that the world could live in peace," said Ryosuke Terdada, father of 17-year-old Yusuke Terdada, one of the missing. "To be killed by a submarine was the worst possible thing that could happen to him."
Earlier in the day, the family members were taken by bus to the Honolulu Coast Guard station, where they viewed items found from the vessel. Many of the relatives broke down, as did some Coast Guard personnel.
Identified by name plate on stern
Chun said the Ehime Maru was first identified at about 11:30 p.m. Friday (0930 GMT Saturday). Cameras aboard the ROV identified the ship's name plate on the stern.
There was no information on the condition of the ship, Chun said. However, Kazuhiko Koshikawa, a spokesman for Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, said that U.S. officials reported the ship to be in one piece.
A second deep-sea submersible called Deep Drone joined Scorpio II Saturday to augment the survey of the wreckage, Chun said. Deep Drone, flown in for the mission from Delaware, was being controlled from the USS Salvor.
The drone was used in the search operations surrounding the 1996 crash of TWA Flight 800 and the crash in 1999 of EgyptAir Flight 990 over the Atlantic Ocean.
Chun also said he had no information on whether efforts would be undertaken to raise it.
"Whether that can be done or not will be determined later," Chun said.
He said the Navy would continue to use the ROV, which skims along the bottom of the ocean, to try to gather more information about the vessel.
"We are doing what we can and cooperating very closely with the Japanese government and we will continue to do so," Chun said.
Interviews continue with crew, civilians
National Transportation Safety Board official John Hammerschmidt said drug and alcohol tests done on the crew of the Japanese vessel and on 25 Greeneville crew members were negative.
Testing of the Japanese crew was requested by the U.S. Coast Guard as part of the investigation, Hammerschmidt said.
He also said that interviews were completed with four of the 16 civilians who were on board the Greeneville, a 7,000-ton Los Angeles-class nuclear attack vessel, when it hit the Japanese ship. He said those interviews were conducted by telephone.
Investigators hope to finish interviewing the Greeneville's crew members by Monday, Hammerschmidt said, but he didn't know when the interviews with the civilians would be complete.
The NTSB said it will interview Waddle, who has been relieved of his command of the Greeneville and reassigned, pending the outcome of the investigation, on Sunday or Monday.
Final report will take at least a year
The Navy has ordered submarine commanders not to allow civilian visitors to sit at sub control panels and also has told the commanders not to perform emergency surfacing maneuvers with civilians on board, pending completion of its investigation.
The Navy has said it will continue to allow civilians aboard its vessels during military exercises because the practice is one of the service's most effective public relations tools.
The NTSB predicted it will issue a final report on the incident in 12 to 15 months.
If the investigation reveals that proper safety procedures were not followed, Waddle could be court martialed for criminal negligence, Pentagon sources told CNN.
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