Cmdr. Scott Waddle of the USS Greeneville was tight-lipped as he left a March 2001 Navy inquiry into the sinking of the Ehime Maru. He was accompanied by his wife, Jill.

Sub skipper plans
to fulfill promise
to Ehime families

By Gregg K. Kakesako

Retired Navy Cmdr. Scott Waddle's trip to Japan this weekend is to fulfill a promise he made to apologize to families who lost loved ones when the Ehime Maru was accidentally sunk last year.

Charles Gittins, Waddle's attorney during the rare Navy court of inquiry held after the Feb. 9, 2001, accident, told the Mainichi Shimbun in a story published today that "Scott is still heartbroken over the accident."

"He felt that he needed to make this trip to face those who were not able to come to Hawaii in order to convey to them his sincere apology for the terrible accident at sea last year," Gittens said.

"Although no one can fully appreciate the loss suffered by the families who lost their loved ones, Scott wishes to convey that he, too, has suffered with the memory of that terrible day, he grieves for and with the families, and not a single day goes by in which he does not think of the terrible loss experienced by the Japanese families," he said.

Nine people -- Japanese schoolboys, their teachers and crew members of the fishing boat Ehime Maru -- were killed when the Pearl Harbor-based nuclear submarine USS Greeneville surfaced into the bottom of their boat nine miles off of Diamond Head.

Waddle, then the sub's commander, was demonstrating an emergency surfacing maneuver for 16 visiting civilians when the accident occurred.

Thirty-five people were on the Ehime Maru, a training vessel used by the Uwajima Fisheries High School. The bodies of eight of the nine victims were recovered by the Navy last fall and returned to the families.

Gittins would not comment on reports that school officials do not want Waddle to visit them on Saturday because his visit would be traumatic for the survivors and their families.

Although Waddle did apologize to the families who attended the court of inquiry last year, Gittins said this weekend's trip is "to pay his respects and provide a personal apology to those family members who were not able to travel to Hawaii."

The court of inquiry found no evidence of criminal intent or deliberate misconduct, and Waddle was not court-martialed. He was allowed to retire in October 2001.

The U.S. Navy agreed on Nov. 14 to settle the case and pay $13 million to the survivors and family members of the 35 people who were on the Ehime Maru. Separately, the Ehime prefectural government signed an $11.47 million compensation deal with the Navy, which covered costs to replace the vessel, equipment, cargo, crew salaries, mental health care for the survivors and the costs for a memorial service.

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