NTSB Releases Final Report on Collision

Wednesday, October 19, 2005
The National Transportation Safety Board today released its final report on its investigation into the collision between a U.S. Navy submarine, the USS Greeneville, and a Japanese motor vessel, the Ehime Maru. The collision resulted in the sinking of the Japanese vessel and the deaths of 9 of her crew. The accident occurred February 9, 2001, off the coast of Hawaii, when the submarine struck the motor vessel while performing an emergency surfacing maneuver during a demonstration cruise as part of the Navy's Distinguished Visitors Program. The Japanese fishing and training vessel was in the middle of a 74-day training voyage. The Safety Board determined the probable cause of the accident to be the inadequate interaction and communication among senior members of the combat systems team on the submarine, which resulted in the failure to perform adequate contact analysis, to adhere to proper procedures for moving to periscope depth; and the commanding officer's decision to order an emergency surfacing maneuver. Contributing to the cause of the accident, the Board found, was the failure of the crew, in particular the commanding officer, to adequately manage the civilian visitors so that they did not impede operations. Contributing to the loss of life was the rapid flooding and sinking of the Ehime Maru, which occurred when the submarine's rudder tore through the fishing vessel's lower deck spaces. The NTSB's report is available on its website at www.ntsb.gov, under "Publications", "Marine." It describes the Board's factual findings and analysis, as well as corrective actions taken by the Navy since the accident.
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