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Tuesday, February 20, 2001

Submarine skipper silent
while Navy investigates

By Mary Adamski

Bullet Salvage decision slow
Bullet Ehime mayor coming in
Bullet Video shows damage
Bullet Japanese leaders meet
Bullet Sub captain mum
Bullet Tenn. town support

The captain of the Navy submarine that sank a Japanese fishing boat has declined to be interviewed by federal investigators until Navy investigative proceedings have finished, a move the National Transportation Safety Board says is not unprecedented.

"We have seen other accidents when somebody has chosen not to talk to us at all. No one can be compelled to talk. Everyone has that constitutional right," said NTSB spokesman Ted Lopatkiewiscz.

Although Cmdr. Scott Waddle's perspective is considered crucial to understanding the events leading up to the collision, Lopatkiewiscz said the NTSB's investigation will be thorough and complete.

"Our investigations tend to take more than a year," he said. "We're hopeful that the opportunity (to interview Waddle) will present itself." Waddle "said if we want to submit questions about the search and rescue operation, he would answer those now," Lopatkiewiscz said.

Interviews were to continue today with other Greeneville personnel, he said.

A NTSB spokesman said he didn't know if investigators talked to the Greeneville's two other lead officers: Lt. Cmdr. Gerald Pfeifer, the executive officer; and Lt. (j.g.) Michael Coen, officer of the deck.

Waddle was accompanied by a military lawyer when he met on the weekend with National Transportation Safety Board officials conducting the probe.

"He told us on advice of counsel he did not wish to answer questions at this time," Lopatkiewiscz said. "He has said when the Navy proceeding is over, he does want to talk to us."

The Navy will convene a court of inquiry Thursday into the actions of Waddle and two other officers of the USS Greeneville on the day that the nuclear submarine crashed into the Ehime Maru during a rapid-ascent drill.

Those called before a court of inquiry retain their rights against self-incrimination and can't be required to testify, Navy officials said.

The Navy and Coast Guard are in the 12th day of a search for the nine people missing from the fishing training vessel. Twenty-six crew, teachers and students were rescued.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Cards of support
gathered in Tenn.

By Anthony Sommer

Residents of Greeneville, Tenn., are gathering what they hope will be hundreds of cards to be delivered to the crew of the USS Greeneville, the submarine that collided with a Japanese fishing boat off Oahu on Feb. 9.

The 5-year-old submarine was named for the town of 14,000, once the home of President Andrew Johnson, and its crew members have been frequent guests.

"We feel like the USS Greeneville is one of our family," said DiAnn Casteel, a board member of USS Greeneville Inc. "Many of the sailors have been here; many of them have had supper in our home. Now we're crying together."

"We wanted to do something to show we aren't just fair-weather friends," Casteel said.

The group also plans to honor the Japanese students, teachers and crew who are missing and feared dead.

"To have that many deaths from a single school would be devastating," said Casteel, who is vice principal of an elementary school.

She said a few residents heard about the collision on television and "word spread like wildfire. We felt like it was one of our own."

The group's board of directors sent a letter of support to the crew on Feb. 16, which was the fifth anniversary of the ship's commissioning.

The cards will be collected through Monday, said Dale Long, president of USS Greeneville Inc. They will be delivered to the crew in about two weeks.

About 20,000 residents of Greeneville and surrounding Greene County in northeastern Tennessee signed a petition in 1989 asking the Navy to name a submarine after the town.

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