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Ehime Maru laid to rest

Divers survey the hull of the Ehime Maru
Divers survey the hull of the Ehime Maru  

HONOLULU, Hawaii (CNN) -- The wreck of a Japanese fisheries vessel, the Ehime Maru, has been laid to rest on the bed of the Pacific Ocean off Hawaii.

The ship, originally sunk by a U.S. nuclear submarine in February, was brought to its final resting place by a giant barge on Sunday, completing an expensive $60 million salvage and recovery mission.

The salvage operation was conducted to recover the bodies of the nine people killed in the accident. All but one body was found.

The collision between the sub and the ship was one of the most embarrassing peacetime accidents in U.S. Naval history.

The submarine, USS Greeneville, hit the training vessel during an emergency surfacing drill off the Hawaiian coast, killing nine people, including four teenage students from a fisheries high school in Uwajima, Japan.

Two teachers, and three crewmen were also among the dead. Twenty-six people survived the sinking.

Relations between the U.S. and Japan were strained when it was revealed the surfacing maneuver was conducted for the benefit of civilian guests on board the submarine.

The submarine's captain, Cmdr Scott Waddle, was reprimanded and allowed to resign from the Navy after an inquiry found his vessel was "solely" at fault.

Relatives of the victims were outraged over what they believed was too lenient a punishment and vowed to seek compensation.

The U.S. promised relatives that it would recover the bodies of the victims.

However, the salvage operation was complicated because the Ehime Maru sank in 2,000 feet (610 meters) of water.

The wreck had to be towed to shallower water where divers could explore the ship.

Salvaging the ship took a month longer than planned, blowing out an original costing forecast of $40 million to $60 million.

Hawaiian officials have given initial approval for the creation of a memorial for the nine victims.


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