Initial lift begins

U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs

Oct. 5, 2001

Rockwater 2 started to lift Ehime Maru around noon Oct. 5 to place it on a level spot on the sea floor so that it can be prepared for the trip to shallow water.

It is not known how long this phase of the operation will take, but media will be updated on the progress.

The goal of this phase is to place a lifting plate under Ehime Maru’s hull near the pilothouse while it is still at 2,000 feet. That plate –- and another plate already under the ship’s engine room –- will be used to lift Ehime Maru about 100 feet off the ocean floor so it can be transported, while still submerged, to a depth of 115 feet about a mile off Honolulu International Airport’s Reef Runway.

Rockwater 2 returned to Honolulu Harbor around 6 p.m. Sept. 29 to load the lifting and spreader assembly. That assembly will be suspended above Ehime Maru and will distribute the ship’s weight between the two lifting plates.

Rockwater 2 picked up the top half of the assembly in port, then left around noon Oct. 1 to rendezvous with the Crowley 250 barge in the vicinity of the shallow-water recovery site to pick up the bottom half. The bottom half was placed on the sea floor, then Rockwater 2 lowered the top half to the bottom half so they could be fastened together using a remotely operated vehicle (ROV).

Around 3:15 a.m. Oct. 2, Rockwater 2 headed to Ehime Maru’s current location about 9 miles south of Diamond Head with the entire assembly suspended beneath it. Because of its unwieldy load, the ship traveled at 1 knot and did not reach the deep-water recovery site until about 5 p.m. Oct. 2.

Once the forward lifting plate is positioned under the hull, Rockwater 2 will return to Honolulu Harbor with the top half of the assembly. It will remain in port for two to three days to re-rig the forward end of the lifting frame from a single cable to a double cable lift configuration. It will then return to the deep-water recovery site. The bottom half of the assembly will remain above Ehime Maru at the deep-water site connected to the two lifting plates.

Once back at the deep-water site, Rockwater 2 will re-connect the top and bottom frames and then lift and transport Ehime Maru the roughly 14 nautical miles to the shallow-water site -- contingent on favorable weather conditions -- for diving operations to commence.
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Revised 10/05/01 at 12:35 p.m. (HST)