Rockwater 2 returns to port

U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii -- Rockwater 2 will return to port early this evening to swap out equipment before beginning an alternate means of rigging Ehime Maru for lifting. Rockwater 2 will first stop at the shallow water recovery site to secure the colied tube drilling unit that is suspended beneath the ship. It will also bring the stern lifting strap up on deck.

At 9 p.m. Tuesday, Sep. 4, the stern lift strap split while Ehime Maru's stern was raised about 24 feet. Reinforcing wires worked as planned and prevented the vessel's stern from falling to the sea bottom. Ehime Maru was safely lowered to the bottom, resulting in no additional damage and no significant release of diesel fuel.

Once Rockwater 2 is in port, Navy and contract engineers will review other methods of placing the lifting plates under Ehime Maru and load the necessary equipment on the ship.

When plans for this phase of the recovery operation are complete, the Navy will brief media on the revised schedule and explain the next steps to be taken. The Navy stands firm in its commitment to transport Ehime Maru to the shallow water recovery site to enable divers to search for the missing crewmembers and their personal effects.

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Revised 9/5/01 at 1:35 p.m. (HST)