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Blind Iron Whale Leap!


Blind Iron Whale Leap!

The formidable American nuclear submarine Grenfell suddenly surged to

the surface like a blind whale, crashing into a Japanese training

vessel which sank after its structure was torn apart.

This happened near the Hawaiian archipelago, at 13:45 minutes

local time on February 9, 2001, and the US submarine USS Greenville

was training in "emergency diving" manoeuvres

suddenly rushing down to the water, then floating as quickly as possible.

The American nuclear submarine suddenly appeared under Ihemi Maru

a Japanese school fishing vessel, and cut off the submarine's rudder.


  • is strong and dedicated to overcoming ice in the Arctic
  • the hull of the ship from side to side, Diesel fuel began to
  • leak into the sea, the stricken vessel filled with water

and then tilted from behind and sank 10 minutes later at a depth of

about 550 metres. It killed 9 of its passengers, 3 of whom wanted

the crew and 6 of the passengers. The United States nuclear

submarine suffered only minor material damage.

Blind Iron Whale Leap!

The Japanese fishing vessel "Ihemi Maro" is 499 tons, affiliated

  • with a secondary school of the Japanese island of
  • Uwajima specializing in fishing, with 13 students
  • two teachers and 20 crew members.

The tragic incident of this rare type of vertical collision occurred within 16

  • kilometres of Oahu Island, and in an area that 
  • the American Submarine Command in 
  • the Pacific calls the "mission testing ground."

The 6,090-tonne US Greenville submarine

one of the largest in the US Navy in the "Los Angeles" category

is for special assignments, was manufactured in 1990 as an enhancer

relegated to water in 1994 and later supplied with a new control system

and modern weapons, and this type of submarine carries 

Tomahawk missiles with nuclear charges.

At the time of the incident, 16 officers and 126 sailors were aboard the submarine

while the submarine's crew of this class is usually composed of 130 persons.

The puzzling question is, how could a technically advanced submarine equipped

with the latest sonar technology, operated by an experienced crew

not detect a nearby fishing vessel up to 60 metres long?

The captain of the Japanese fishing vessel Hissau Onishi testified that the crew of

the United States nuclear submarine was standing without movement

watching the sailors of his vessel trying to survive, adding that "none of 

the passengers of the fishing vessel were rescued by the crew of the submarine."

The commander of the American Pacific Fleet

Admiral Tom Fargo :

claimed that the submarine's exits were not opened because of the waves

while the captain of the Japanese fishing vessel confirmed that the sea was quiet.

Blind Iron Whale Leap!

The United States Pacific Fleet Court decided on April 24, 2001, to punish Scott

Weddle :

commander of the "Grenfell" nuclear submarine, with a fine of depriving him of

 one month's salary. Furthermore, the captain received an "official reprimand"

  • which stated that he was "guilty of negligence
  • because when he appeared on the surface
  • he did not confirm that no one was at sea".

The Japanese authorities, for their part

expressed their satisfaction with the Court's decision and considered 

the incident closed, but some of the victims'

relatives had the exact opposite position.

Tero Terata, the uncle of an 18-year-old deceased hunting school student


"My nephew Yosuke was killed, and the perpetrator was honorably

discharged in the outcome", further noting that he had difficulty 

expressing his anger.

In March 2002

the U.S. Navy paid the government of Japan's Ihemi prefecture $10 million in

compensation for the sinking of the fishing vessel

and the case was closed once and for all.