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American Forces Press Service

Sub Skipper Reprimanded for Ehime Maru Incident

 

 By Gerry J. Gilmore
 
American Forces Press Service


 WASHINGTON, April 25, 2001 -- The U.S. Pacific Fleet 
 commander found that the former skipper of the USS 
 Greeneville was derelict in his duties and had handled the 
 submarine hazardously prior to the Feb. 9 collision with 
 the Japanese fishing vessel Ehime Maru.
 
 After reviewing a 119-page court of inquiry report on the 
 accident, Adm. Thomas B. Fargo administered nonjudicial 
 punishment, a punitive letter of reprimand, to Cmdr. Scott 
 Waddle April 23 in Honolulu. The letter directed Waddle's 
 removal from command of the Greeneville "for cause," and 
 ordered him to forfeit half his pay for two months, which 
 was suspended.
 
 "Commander Waddle has been stripped of his command and his 
 career (is) effectively terminated," Fargo said at an April 
 23 press conference in Hawaii. "I would tell you that this 
 is absolutely devastating. He has paid dearly."
 
 The Greeneville was on a special cruise with 16 civilian 
 guests aboard Feb. 9 when it struck the Ehime Maru during 
 an emergency surfacing exercise about nine miles off 
 Honolulu's Diamond Head. The Japanese vessel sank within 
 minutes and nine of its 35 crewmembers remain missing.
 
 The naval inquiry report noted that Waddle, who was running 
 late to return to port just before the accident, failed to 
 take the time to make a proper periscope scan of the area 
 before conducting the exercise, where a submarine rapidly 
 shoots to the surface. Fargo also noted that several 
 members of the Greeneville's crew "failed to work together 
 and pass information to each other about" conditions on the 
 surface.
 
 Fargo said he didn't recommend Waddle for a court-martial 
 because the inquiry produced no evidence of criminal intent 
 or deliberate misconduct. Prior to the accident, Waddle's 
 career and record were excellent, he noted.
 
 It is expected that Waddle, who has always claimed 
 responsibility for the accident, will be allowed to retire 
 after he becomes eligible to do so next month.
 
 In a memorandum for record on the court report Fargo noted 
 that Lt. j.g. Michael J. Coen, officer of the deck, had 
 received an official admonishment and recommended that 
 Petty Officer 1st class Patrick Seacrest, fire control 
 technician, attend a nonjudicial Captain's Mast hearing. 
 Fargo noted that official admonishments would also be 
 issued to Lt. Cmdr. Gerald K. Pfeifer, executive officer; 
 Master Chief Petty Officer Douglas Coffmann, chief of the 
 boat; and Petty Officer 1st class Edward McGiboney, sonar 
 supervisor.
 
 Fargo recommended that another officer on the submarine 
 during the incident, Capt. Robert L. Brandhuber, also be 
 admonished. Although the captain wasn't a member of the 
 Greeneville crew, Fargo said, Brandhuber should have 
 challenged Waddle's hurried periscope check.
 
 At the news conference, Fargo called the incident "a 
 tragedy in which mistakes were made, for which our people 
 have been held accountable." He expressed his regret to the 
 families of the Ehime Maru's lost crew, saying "there is no 
 process that will compensate for the loss of life."
 
 Related Site of Interest:
  • USS Greeneville Incident


  • Updated: 14 Jan 2003
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