the Japanese fishing boat

John blueoval at SGI.NET
Tue Feb 20 14:18:50 MST 2001


Sub Commander Refuses Questioning

By Jaymes Song
Associated Press Writer

HONOLULU -- The commander of the U.S. submarine that sank a Japanese 
fishing vessel has refused to discuss the accident with investigators from 
the National Transportation Safety Board until the Navy completes its 
investigation, officials said on Monday.

NTSB investigators met with Cmdr. Scott Waddle over the weekend when he 
told them his lawyer recommended he only respond to written questions from 
the NTSB for the time being and only about search and rescue efforts, NTSB 
spokesman Ted Lopatkiewiscz said.

Waddle's information could be crucial to the NTSB effort to determine how 
the USS Greeneville failed to detect the 190-foot Ehime Maru before it 
conducted an emergency rapid-ascent drill nine miles south of Diamond Head 
on Feb. 9.

The Ehime Maru, a commercial fishing training vessel, was headed toward 
fishing grounds 300 miles southeast of Oahu when the Greeneville crashed 
into it. The submarine tore through the hull of the ship, sinking it within 
minutes. The vessel was found by underwater probes Friday night in 2,000 
feet of water.

The ship was on a two-month training trip with students from a Japanese 
high school. Twenty-six people were rescued but nine have not been found - 
three crewmen, two teachers and four students.

The Navy announced Saturday it would conduct a court of inquiry - its 
highest-level administrative investigation - to focus on the actions of the 
Greeneville's three top officers: Waddle; its executive officer, Lt. Cmdr. 
Gerald K. Pfeifer, and the officer of the deck, Lt. j.g. Michael J. Coen.

Three admirals will oversee the hearing, which could lead to 
courts-martial, said Adm. Thomas Fargo, commander in chief of the Pacific 
Fleet. The board is scheduled to convene Thursday.

The hearing is expected to examine the presence of 16 civilian guests on 
the submarine, two of whom, supervised by crew members, were at key 
controls when the Greeneville made its rapid ascent. One pulled the levers 
that initiated the drill.

On Monday, the Navy and Coast Guard continued the search for the nine missing.

"At this point, it's going to go on indefinitely," said Coast Guard 
spokesman Eric Hedaa. "We have no plans to discontinue the search."

A deep-sea robot was also combing the ocean floor to evaluate the 
feasibility of raising the 500-ton Ehime Maru. Japanese officials and 
families of the missing are pressing the United States to salvage the ship 
if that is the only way to recover bodies that may be entombed in its hull.

© Copyright 2001 The Associated Press
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