Sixteen years ago, the USS Greeneville, a nuclear-powered submarine practicing a high-speed surfacing maneuver off O‘ahu’s south shore, struck the Ehime Maru, an Uwajima Fisheries High School training ship from Ehime, Japan, puncturing a hole in its hull. Within minutes, the ship began to sink. The Feb. 9, 2001, tragedy took the lives of nine people, including four students. Killed instantly were students Takeshi Mizuguchi, Katsuya Nomoto, Toshiya Sakashima and Yusuke Terata; teachers Hiroshi Makizawa and Jun Nakata; and crewmembers Toshimichi Furuya, Hiroshi Nishida and Hirotaka Segawa. Mizuguchi’s body was never recovered.
The accident could have jeopardized, or at the very least, set back the good relations that had developed and flourished between Japan and the United States in the aftermath of World War II on a number of levels: diplomatic, economic and cultural, among others.