HONOLULU -- A deep-sea robot has found the wreckage of a Japanese fishing vessel that sank when a Navy attack submarine tore through it while surfacing, Navy officials said Saturday.
"All we can do is confirm that a remote-operated vehicle has located the Ehime Maru," said Jon Yoshishige, a spokesman for the U.S. Pacific Fleet.
Yoshishige said the fishing boat was spotted at 11:25 p.m. Friday sitting nearly upright in 2,033 feet of water, approximately 1,000 yards from the collision site.
A Navy support ship had lowered the remotely operated deep-diving vehicle, the Super Scorpio II, into the ocean nine miles south of Diamond Head -- where the crash took place -- to begin the search Friday.
The unmanned submersible is equipped with sonar and two video cameras, and has a limited recovery capability.
The Scorpio on Saturday was continuing a scan on the vessel and the area around it, Yoshishige said. There was no word whether any bodies had been detected in the 500-ton Ehime Maru.
Still missing are four high school students, two teachers and three crewmen from the commercial fishing training vessel, operated by Uwajima Fisheries High School in southwestern Japan. Twenty-six people were rescued after the Feb. 9 collision.
Japanese family members meanwhile made an anguished and angry plea for answers about why the USS Greeneville crashed into the 190-foot Ehime Maru.
At times sobbing and shouting, 16 relatives spoke publicly about the tragedy for the first time Friday at a news conference on the University of Hawaii campus. They urged officials to continue with the search until all missing bodies were found.
"It's your responsibility as human beings," said Masumi Terata, mother of 17-year-old Yusuke Terata. "If your blood is red, you'll understand our pain and sorrow."
The fishing vessel sank minutes after the Greeneville surfaced underneath it during an emergency rapid-ascent drill. Two civilian guests were at control stations of the submarine during the maneuver.
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