Saturday, March 17, 2001

Associated Press
Naoko Nakata, who lost her husband Jun, talks to the media
yesterday outside the court building at Pearl Harbor.

Sub crewman
who saw Ehime
Maru to testify

Patrick Seacrest, a fire-control
technician, plotted the sunken
Japanese ship prior to
the collision

By Gregg K. Kakesako

Bullet Sub was 'entertainment'
Bullet Fire-control to testify

A KEY USS GREENEVILLE crewman, who was able to detect the Japanese fishing training ship Ehime Maru two miles away but failed to inform his skipper Cmdr. Scott Waddle, will take the stand Monday under a grant of immunity.

Patrick Seacrest, 34, is the fire control technician who at 1:31 p.m. on Feb. 9 -- 12 minutes before the nuclear sub rammed the Japanese ship -- plotted the Ehime Maru 4,000 yards away.

But Seacrest did not say anything either to Cmdr. Scott Waddle, the Greeneville's skipper, or Lt. j.g. Michael Coen, the officer of the deck who was supposed to be running the sub at that point.

Seacrest may have been influenced by the fact that Waddle reported seeing no surface vessels through the sub's periscope after several quick sweeps and because the radar operators also reported no contacts.

At that point, Seacrest re-plotted the position of the Ehime Maru to 9,000 yards to the north, despite the fact that the two vessels were now on a collision course.

Seacrest told National Transportation Safety Board investigators that he also was prevented from updating a paper wall chart because there were too many civilians in the Greeneville's control room that day.

USS Greeneville Seacrest had not requested "testimonial immunity." That means anything he says before the Navy court of inquiry next week could be used against him in possible criminal proceedings. But Seacrest could still be charged based on the testimony of others.

But it was the panel of three senior U.S. admirals who made the request, which was granted yesterday by Adm. Thomas Fargo, Pacific Fleet commander.

Jay Fidell, a civilian lawyer who has participated in similar military investigations, said he believes it was a smart move by the three admirals.

Two principal players in the inquiry -- Waddle and Coen -- also have requested immunity, but Fargo has not decided on their requests.

Fidell said it is good legal strategy to "hear what the little guy says first.

"You don't rule on the big guys until you hear what the little guy has to say first."

Charles Gittins, Waddle's attorney, has told Fargo that the sub skipper should get immunity to testify because the Navy erred when it failed to read Waddle his rights.

That occurred when Navy lawyers interviewed Waddle a day after the accident occurred. Nine people were killed in the collision that resulted in the Ehime Maru sinking nine miles south of Diamond Head.

The Navy proposes to spend $40 million to raise the Ehime Maru from where it sits on the bottom, 2,003 feet down.

It would then move it to somewhere near the reef runway where, at a depth of 90 feet, they could recover any bodies that may still be entombed.

E-mail to City Desk

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2001 Honolulu Star-Bulletin