The news reports have covered the unfortunate accident here in Hawaii, and the subsequent search and human interest stories… but one thing puzzles me, and perhaps someone on the board knows or heard the answer:
The Japanese fishing boat was reported to have been on its way back from fishing maneuvers in Hawaiian waters. How is that ? It doesn’t seem likely that a foreign flag vessel would be legally fishing within the territorial waters; or perhaps even, as a training vessel, within the EEZ waters.
How far out are our territorial waters anyway? If it’s three miles, then at nine miles offshore the Japanese vessel may have been outside of our territorial waters. If it’s 12 miles, then they were inside. Are there special limits for fishing vessels?
You meant “drift-net” ? But seriously, the fishing is in the various EEZ’s, from 12 to 200, not within 12 [or 24 or whatever, as DuckDuckGoose points out]. The exact business about the territorial limit often depends on the continental shelf and/or nearby lands - as would happen with the Grand Banks, or western Aleutian waters. But that doesn’t figure here, well over two hundred miles from anything else.
If they were in the US EEZ, as a licensed commercial fishing operation as opposed to a training vessel [which is probably not allowed], that’s perhaps possible, although there’s nothing in that general vicinity they’d be after; it’d be all much further north [commercial waters for marlin, swordfish, tuna, et al.] Under this circumstance, they’d have had license checks, fresh maps, VMS transponders, etc…, que no ?
So my question is more precisely [my fault]: under what conditions would that vessel have been operating where it was ? Or as DDG suggests, are there no rules to speak of ?
Conspiracy theory: the Japanese were spying on Pearl Harbor and Hawaii, using a fishing boat as cover. The US military learned of this, so the sub deliberately surfaced to sink the boat, pretending it was an accident. Feb 11, 2001: another day that will live in infamy.
Also, this incident will help promote the new movie about Pearl Harbor coming out soon, so Hollywood is involved in the conspiracy.
According to The Japan Times, they weren’t actually fishing. The ship was carrying 13 second-year high school students (11th grade US) from the Uwajima Fisheries High School in Ehime, Japan (kind of a vocational school for fishermen). They had travelled to Hawaii to do “tuna research,” and their ship had been docked in Honolulu before the collision.
To quote the Times article, “Uwajima Fisheries High School… is one of many Japanese fisheries schools that train stuedents in Hawaiian waters.”
“Hawaii is popular for its safety, medical services and its ability to respond systematically in times of emergency.”
“The schools used to train in the Indian Ocean, but piracy and civil strife along sea routes leading there have made that ocean unpopular.”
Japan Times, Feb. 11, 2001 “Nine Japanese Missing off Oahu” and “Safety, Services Attract Fishery Schools to Hawaii.”
Goof-balling aside, I recently watched a special on U.S. submarines on c-span, of all places, that dealt with this very issue.
The commander of the sub basically said that the only thing he feared the most on a sub was surfacing. The interviewer seemed somewhat incredulous to his comment and pushed him on it. He eventually said that while it’s relatively easy to see what’s out there around you, it’s damn tough to see what’s directly behind you or above you.
Why? I’m not sure.
But isn’t it possible that the fishing boats engines were off at the time that the sub surfaced and the sub simply didn’t ‘see’ it?
Actually, it was a little over 50 years ago, but yes, it’s highly ironic. Of all the vast Pacific waters, to have an “accident” between a US sub and Japanese boat right there near Pearl Harbor. What are the odds of that? Smells mighty fishy…I think there is a conspiracy.
Obviously you have strong feelings about Pearl Harbor. I understand that. However, I feel that it is an insult to the memory of those who died there to suggest that the accidental death of some school kids * who happen to be Japanese* is in any way a ‘revenge’ for those who died at Pearl Harbor.
Gosh, imagine a boat colliding with a U.S. Navy submarine right outside - of all places - a gigantic U.S. Navy base. Who would have thought that’s where an American warship would be?
(Okay, I know, a submarine isn’t a “Ship.”)
I can see why it might be tough for a submarine to “see” something directly above it, but IIRC, this particular class of submarine is equipped with a device called a “periscope.” Surely to God they do periscope checks before surfacing? I’m careful to check my blind spot when I’m driving my Regal. If I was driving a frigging Los Angeles-class submarine, I’d use the damned periscope.
One website gave a list of alleged collisions between US submarines and other stuff. This list is surprisingly long. Can anyone confirm/refute these incidents?
Some specific alleged incidents are:
October, 1986: A Soviet K-219 submarine sank in the Atlantic ocean after colliding with the USS Augusta (Los Angeles class). The USS Augusta sustained extensive hull damage.
June 14, 1989: The USS Houston (Los Angeles class) collided with the Barcona, a small surface vessel that was towing two barges. The collision occured between Los Angeles and Santa Catalina Island off southern California, when the submarine had been about to take part the next day in the filming of “The Hunt for Red October.”
February, 1992: There was a collision between a Russian type-“Kostroma” (NATO designation: Sierra II) nuclear submarine and the USS Baton Rouge, Los Angeles class submarine. The American sub was trailing the Russian sub and miscalculated its speed. Both submarines sustained significant damage. The Baton Rouge was written off.
March, 1993: There was a collision between a Russian K-407 SSBN (NATO designation: Delta IV) nuclear submarine and the USS Grayling (Sturgeon class submarine). Once again, the American sub was trailing the Russian sub and miscalculated its speed. Both submarines sustained significant damage. The Grayling was written off.
February 1998: A US Navy attack submarine (Los Angeles class) collided with a South Korean fishing ship. The submarine sustained damage and the South Korean fishing ship sank. The Los Angeles-class submarine was surfacing when it collided with the surface ship.
March, 1998: Two US Navy nuclear submarines - the USS Kentucky (Ohio class) and the USS San Juan (you guessed it: Los Angeles class) - collided with each other off Long Island, New York. The Kentucky was on the surface when the San Jan surfaced and hit it.
If all of these incidents are true, then it’s easy to see why the Russians think that the Kursk was hit by the USS Memphis.
For those of you not keeping up with the details, the sub was practicing a “emergency main ballast tank blow” when it hit the Japanese boat. That’s when the sub surfaces so fast that it blasts out of the water. They show it on the Discovery Channel all the time.
“Before attempting the maneuver, the submarine does periscope and acoustic searches for hazards from a depth of about 60 feet, said Lt. Cmdr. Dave Werner, spokesman for the U.S. Pacific Fleet’s submarine force. If the water is found to be clear, the vessel returns to a greater depth and then surges to the surface, Werner said.”
Maybe the Navy should investigate what sort of stealthing technologies the Japanese Fishing Industries are now using! Seriously, the Silent Service is the most inherently dangerous profession in the world. For the submariners, the Cold War is not over. It is their job to track all foreign assests that may in anyway bring harm to the United States or it’s allies. And they do it day in and day out for weeks and months at a time 24/7. And they do it with out ever seeing the light of day. All they have to navigate is a clock, a map and their math. So it’s understandable that collisions can and do occur. Have you ever actualy looked out of a periscope? Your point of view is a few feet at most above the water. Not the best POV available. The only real way to scan for contacts on the surface is via radar mounted in the mast. But submariners spend all their time pretending to be a hole in the water, they certainly aren’t going to brodcast their position with a pulse of EM.
All these considerations aside, the skipper of the sub just had his career in the Navy thrown in the shitter. If it’s any consolation…
I asked my SO about this, figuring he’d be a good source of info as he served on a US nuclear submarine for a couple of years.
He told me that during an emergency surfacing drill such as the one the Greeneville was performing, standard operating procedure would be to 1) do a periscope check, 2) contact a surface ship and ask them if the surface was clear, and/or 3) do a normal surfacing, check the water, then resubmerge and do the emergency surfacing.
His theories as to why the Greeneville didn’t know there was a fishing boat directly overhead: 1) The sub wasn’t where it thought it was. If the sub called up the surface ship and said, “Hey, we’re in X location, is there any clutter on the surface?” and the surface ship said, “Nope, all clear,” and then the ship surfaced somewhere ELSE, obviously that would be a problem. 2) The surface ship screwed up and said the coast was clear when actually it wasn’t. 3) The commander never contacted a surface ship and screwed up when doing the periscope check.
Keith (the SO) said that any of these scenarios seems unlikely to him, as someone (perhaps multiple someones) would have had to screw up on a colossal scale. But obviously, someone DID screw up on a colossal scale. His opinion is that the Navy will eventually figure out exactly what happened, but might or might not release the information to the general public.