on Ehime Maru
a sailor from providing
Key figures' ties come to light
By Gregg K. Kakesako
The actions of Cmdr. Scott Waddle and the crew of the nuclear attack submarine USS Greeneville are becoming the focal point of a rare Navy investigative board that was asked for the first time to look into the reasons why a crewman changed crucial data involving the location of a Japanese fishing trawler.
Ehime Maru location
Families cite rules
$100,000 in donations
Rear Adm. Charles Griffiths, who did the preliminary investigation leading to the convening of a special panel of three senior U.S. admirals, said something prevented a Greeneville crewman from giving Waddle important data pinpointing the location of the Ehime Maru minutes before the collision occurred Feb. 9, nine miles south of Diamond Head.
The Ehime Maru, with a crew of 35 high school students and their teachers, was returning to Japan after rest and shopping in Hawaii when it was rammed by the Greeneville. The 190-foot trawler sank within 10 minutes. Nine people, including four 17-year students, two teachers and three crewmen, are missing and presumed lost.
Yesterday, Griffiths, commander of Submarine Group Nine in Bangor, Wash., said the fire control technician told Navy investigators that crowded conditions caused by the presence of 16 civilians prevented him from giving Waddle and Lt. j.g. Michael Coen, who was the officer of the deck and responsible for submarine's operations that day, information on the location of the Ehime Maru.
When asked whether the Navy seaman, who was not identified, could have easily asked the civilians to move, Griffiths said: "A physical barrier is not insurmountable, particularly if you have an urgent report. So there is no question that the visitors' presence, although perhaps a passive deterrent, was not the only reason here."
Griffiths said there was no reason why the fire control technician couldn't speak up since his primary duty is to assure the safety of the ship.
At that point, Griffiths said, the Greeneville was plotting and analyzing three sonar contacts, one being the Ehime Maru, which had been designated as Sierra 13 (the 13th sonar contact logged that day).
Change made after collisionGriffiths also noted the same fire control technician changed the position of the Ehime Maru from 2,000 yards to 9,000 yards after the collision occurred.
Griffiths said the fire control technician made the change based on the reports by Coen and Waddle that they had no visual contacts during three periscope sweeps of the surface.
Griffiths said the panel of three admirals should further investigate the discrepancy.
He testified for more than three hours without notes, relaying information he had collected during his five-day investigation, which filled three large loose-leaf binders. He stopped only once for a 20-minute recess.
Yesterday was the first day of a court of inquiry, the Navy's highest investigative board, which could lead to possible criminal charges and courts-martial for Waddle, Coen and Lt. Cmdr. Gerald Pfeifer, the Greeneville's executive officer.
Waddle already has told Time magazine that he believes his career is over. "An accident of this sort, whether or not I am exonerated, will end my career," he said.
Tours host thousands of civilians yearly; attack-sub tours average 13 guests
1999 TOURSIn 1999, the average attack submarine trip had 13 guests and the average ballistic missile submarine trip had 30 guests. In 1999, the Pacific Fleet sponsored the following civilian tours:
Nuclear ballistic missile submarine civilian trips: 26
Number of civilians: 785
Los Angeles-class attack submarine civilian trips: 28
Number of civilians: 367
Aircraft carrier civilian trips: 108
Number of civilians: 2,155
Surface warfare civilian trips: 71
Number of civilians: 8,133
Total civilian trips: 233
Total civilian guests: 11,440
2000 TOURSIn 2000, the average attack submarine trip had 15 guests and the average ballistic missile submarine trip had 34 guests. In 2000, the Pacific Fleet sponsored the following civilian tours:
Ballistic missile submarine civilian trips: 29
Civilian guests: 980
Los Angeles-class attack sub civilian trips: 21
Civilian guests: 307
Carrier civilian trips: 74
Carrier civilian guests: 1,478
Surface warship civilian trips: 34
Surface ship civilian guests: 5,071
Total civilian trips: 158
Total civilian guests: 7,836
Waddle told the magazine, "My last acts as a naval officer will be to ensure there is closure for the families and that the truth is determined."
Today, the Court of Inquiry, led by Vice Adm. John Nathman, was to visit the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard to inspect the Greeneville, now in dry dock for repairs. The panel wants Griffiths to explain the layout of the submarine's control room and where the 10 to 12 crewmen were stationed that day. Later, the panel was to visit the Pacific Fleet's submarine simulator at Pearl Harbor to review the emergency deep dive and emergency surfacing procedures.
Waddle was demonstrating an emergency surfacing maneuver for the 16 civilians aboard when the Greeneville rammed into the port side of the Ehime Maru. The submarine's reinforced rudder acted like a torpedo, slicing a hole in the Japanese ship's hull and flooding it in minutes.
Griffiths said things initially were going well for what was supposed to be a day-long cruise. But because of an extended lunch, the Greeneville by 1:16 p.m. was behind schedule by 45 minutes. Pfeifer told Waddle that he was behind schedule. To that Waddle replied, "I have it under control," Griffiths testified.
In the meantime, the Ehime Maru had left Honolulu Harbor and by 12:30 p.m. was heading southeast for international fishing grounds. Capt. Hisao Onishi had put the Ehime Maru on auto pilot at a speed of 11 knots.
The Greeneville was on a northerly course.
Captain starts demonstrationAt 1:25 p.m. Waddle started his first afternoon demonstration, a series of high-speed diving and surfacing maneuvers called "angles and dangles." Six minutes later, Waddle prepared to take the Greeneville to periscope depth of about 60 feet to check the surface for vessels before performing the last demonstration of the day -- an emergency main ballast tank blow.
But instead of spending at least three minutes at periscope depth, which is the generally accepted practice, Waddle was there for only 80 seconds.
Coen, the officer of the deck, made two 360-degree sweeps of the surface by periscope. Then Waddle took over and moved the submarine up 2 feet, but scanned only northerly, where the last sonar contact was reported. Then he headed to a depth of 400 feet before commencing the demonstration.
At 1:43 p.m. and 15 seconds, the Greeneville tore into the hull of the Ehime Maru, sending her to the bottom 2,003 feet below.
Because the Ehime Maru was coming straight toward the Greeneville, presenting a difficult silhouette, and because it was white, Griffiths said it might have been hard to spot initially because of the haze that day. But had Waddle and his crew spent more than 80 seconds at periscope depth and done a better search, the Greeneville should have been able to spot the Ehime Maru from 2,000 yards away, Griffiths said.
On another point, Griffiths said the Greeneville's sonar shack was staffed by a trainee who was not adequately supervised because his teacher was acting as a tour guide for the civilians.
A key sonar video display unit, located in the "conn" and used by the officer of the deck to monitor sonar contacts, failed just after the Greeneville left Pearl Harbor. Griffiths said failure of the video monitor would have bothered him.
"When I was a submarine CO (commanding officer) and that piece of equipment was broken, I felt somewhat naked. It was a big deal."
Nathman, the president of the panel of admirals, was asked by Lt. Cmdr. Kimberlie Young, one of Waddle's three attorneys, his view as to the culpability of Waddle as a commanding officer.
"As a captain, you're responsibility for the conduct of your crew and your ship," Nathman said. "And ultimately, you're responsible for whatever happens."
Rear Adm. Paul Sullivan, another court member, said that as a junior officer on the submarine USS Base in 1978, he was involved in a minor collision when his submarine hit a merchant ship as it was coming to the surface to get a navigational fix by periscope.
This afternoon, Griffiths was to be examined by attorneys for Waddle, Coen and Pfeifer.
CLASSMATES. Golf buddies. Co-workers. Personal friends.
Key figures ties
come to light
By Treena Shapiro
The morning session of the first day of the Navy's investigative hearing into the Feb. 9 collision between the submarine USS Greeneville and the Japanese training vessel Ehime Maru brought to light nothing of what caused the tragic accident.
Among jargon-laden questions posed were revelations of ties among the men conducting this court of inquiry. But ultimately, no objections were raised.
It was of little consequence to Ryosuke Terata, who left the courtroom at the lunch break, frustrated by the proceedings. The morning session provided no information about what caused his son Yusuke and eight others to be lost in the the Pacific Ocean after the Ehime Maru sank to a depth of more than 2,000 feet.
Cmdr. Scott Waddle, captain of the USS Greeneville at the time of the collision, didn't give families of the missing more than a glance in the courtroom, said Terata, who sat two rows behind Waddle with five other family members of the missing.
Later in the day, the family members heard testimony from Rear Adm. Charles Griffiths, which helped explain what had transpired the day of the accident. But Terata was frustrated by three hours of questions posed by attorneys to the three court of inquiry members: Vice Adm. John B. Nathman, president of the court; Rear Adm. Paul F. Sullivan; and Rear Adm. David M. Stone.
Among the most striking information during the initial round of questioning were the relationships among the three members of the tribunal and others involved in the inquiry. Nathman and Sullivan, for instance, were Naval Academy classmates with Adm. Thomas Fargo, Pacific Fleet Commander and convening authority of the hearing.
Nathman said he and Fargo had remained friends since their school days, playing golf together several times during the past couple of years. He and Sullivan have seen each other only occasionally during the 30 years since graduation.
Both Nathman and Sullivan counted among their personal friends Submarine Forces Commander Rear Adm. Al Konetzi, whose policies and practices in implementing the Navy's distinguished visitors program will be scrutinized during the inquiry. Sullivan, a submariner, said that he knew Waddle on a professional basis, since "he rode my ship once as an inspector back in probably 1993 or so."