Update by Rear Adm. Klemm

U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs

"Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. We appreciate you all gathering here on relatively short notice, but we felt this announcement was an important one, and I wanted to personally brief you on the status of our operation today and give you an indication of some coming events.

"As you have known from following the Ehime Maru recovery effort, we have had some snags along the way, our plans have been very specific and in a number of cases we have been forced to deviate from those plans – not an unusual set of circumstances in an operation that is as complex as this, or in any salvage-type operation, for that matter.

"These setbacks, as you may recall, include our inability to properly execute the drilling underneath the ship, scarfing up cables under the ship to place our cables, and to some degree, the partial lifting of the stern to install the lifting plate.

"I will tell you that these do not represent failures, but they represent learning experiences which have resulted in innovative approaches to the way in which we will execute the rest of this recovery operation.

"I am here to tell you that the United States Navy is firmly committed to the execution of the recovery of the Ehime Maru, and nothing that has transpired to this point makes that mission any more difficult than it was from the beginning.

"The experiences that we have had at this point tell us some good information with regard to the structural integrity of the ship. The ship is in much stronger condition than had been initially anticipated in the feasibility studies. It has been able to withstand far greater structural stresses than were calculated initially. That is a very good sign, and a very positive sign for our ability to successfully relocate the ship.

"At the same time, our exploration of compartments on the ship – opening of spaces, compartments and hatches has indicated that the amount of petroleum products that remain on board the ship is significantly less than we had initially anticipated in our environmental assessment, and in fact were well below the 10,000 gallons that we had previously estimated at the last press conference.

"The ship today is resting down by the bow, as it was previously lifted by the stern. It is nearly upright, with less list than it previously had. It is in an ideal situation to install the after lifting straps, and that will be our next mission area.

"I would like to state that myself and the team of Japanese experts, U.S. Navy experts and contractor experts have reviewed the calculations and the operation, and we are more confident today that we will be successful than we have been at any point in this operation.

"Plans are being finalized as we speak for the very specific steps that will be taken. Captain Bert Marsh, the Navy’s supervisor of salvage who has addressed you at previous briefings, will speak tomorrow in this same location at 12 noon Hawaii Standard Time to provide a detailed description of how the rigging will take placed. The rigging has not substantially changed. Some of the sequence has changed, but the ultimate rigging is in fact in accordance with the original plan. So once we have recovered to the point that we have attached the two primary lifting straps to the ship, the remainder of the operation will be the same as you have been previously briefed.

"As you know, Rockwater 2 came into port to offload some equipment and onload additional equipment to continue the operation. She will be getting underway at 1800 local time this evening for a fueling stop with a scheduled underway at 0200 in the morning tomorrow to return to the deep water site to continue the operation.

"In closing, I would simply like to say that in any salvage operation, there are more unknowns than there are knowns. And those unknowns require innovation. There has been a great deal of innovation throughout this operation. We have the very best U.S. and Japanese salvage expertise brought to bear on this project. Our prime contractor, Smit-Tak and their Haliburton team has brought unprecedented expertise and equipment to bear on a project that has never before been undertaken.

"Cooperation between the United States Navy and the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force could not be better. We have all of the tools, the necessary personnel and the willpower to successfully execute this mission, and that is exactly what we intend to do.

"Thank you very much, and tomorrow if you will, please allow Bert Marsh to give you the specific details of the changes in the operation."
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Revised 9/6/01 at 4:55 p.m. (HST)