Waddle’s new book
is critical of Navy

"The Navy screwed this up
in every manner possible"

By Gregg K. Kakesako

The skipper of the U.S. nuclear submarine that collided with a Japanese fishing vessel off Waikiki nearly two years ago says he has no problems "lambasting the Navy" for the way it treated him following the accident.

The cover for Cmdr. Scott Waddle's new book.

The critical remarks of Cmdr. Scott Waddle, who was allowed to retire Oct. 1 with full benefits following a military court of inquiry in March 2001, are in a book -- "The Right Thing" -- he has co-authored with Ken Abraham, and in a Tuesday interview with the Pacific Stars and Stripes newspaper.

In the interview, Waddle said "the Navy screwed this up in every manner possible." It even reneged on its promise to pay for the cost of a trip to Japan to apologize, he said.

"The Navy ended their handling of this event in the same consistent manner as they did all along, and that's with error, lack of compassion for the individuals that were impacted by this event and lack of vision at looking at this through the eyes of a different culture," Waddle said.

Waddle further charged that the Navy ordered him to repay bonuses and incentives before he left the service.

A spokesman for the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor declined to comment yesterday.

Waddle, an Annapolis graduate, said he was willing to apologize to the Japanese two days after the USS Greeneville collided with the Japanese training vessel Ehime Maru on Feb. 9, 2001, nine miles off Diamond Head.

Four students from the Uwajima Fisheries High School and five adults were killed in the Navy's worst civilian accident since World War II. Eight of the nine bodies were recovered in a costly salvaging operation.

However, after the collision and against Navy wishes, Waddle sent a letter to the bereaved families through the Consulate General of Japan in Honolulu, in which he stated his wish to directly apologize to the families.

The Greeneville was demonstrating an emergency surfacing maneuver for 16 civilians, who were here on a fund-raising effort for the battleship USS Missouri.

Last year, the Navy agreed to a $13.9 million settlement with 33 of the 35 crew members and their families. It also agreed to fund the cost of building of another teaching vessel.

Waddle's book is expected to go on sale Tuesday, just before the final two families sign a settlement with the Navy in Tokyo. A Japanese translation may be undertaken if it is financially feasible, Waddle said. Some of the proceeds of the book will go to Saint Louis School to help pay for an Ehime Maru memorial in Kakaako, which the students are voluntarily maintaining.

Waddle says Adm. Thomas Fargo, who was Pacific Fleet commander, never followed through on a promise that the Navy would pay for him to go to Japan to personally apologize to the families of the victims.

"The Navy had no desire to have this problem resurface, to have any publicity regarding this event or to have it come back on the front pages," Waddle said. "They wanted this thing to go away and thought that recovering the remains of the individuals ... would push it under the rug. The claims and settlement process would satisfy the Japanese families and make that issue go away."

When Waddle decided to make the trip in December at his own expense, he said his former Navy lawyer and a military lawyer in Japan sent an e-mail to his civilian lawyer, Charles Gittins, asking that he reconsider since the military believed he still might end up in jail there.

After surviving a court of inquiry with only a letter of reprimand, Waddle was given a desk job until his October retirement.

"I walked out of the door on Oct. 1 as though I was leaving for the day," said Waddle in his book. "After 24 years in the Navy, it was over, just like that."

Waddle said there were "select individuals in key leadership roles in the Navy who made some bad decisions," and as such, they had a significant dramatic adverse impact on his life.

"They made my quality of life miserable the final months before I left the service, and managed to punish me more severely by penalizing me and demanding that I repay bonuses and incentives that were awarded me during the time I was on active duty that I thought I rightfully earned."

Waddle said his critics may label him a "whiner" since he got an honorable discharge, is receiving his pension and did not go to jail.

"All I wanted was to be treated fairly and to have the Navy act in an honorable fashion, just as I intended to do while I was on active duty. To leave the Navy after a 20-year career with not so much as even getting a handshake was heartbreaking."

Waddle now works for ABB Inc., a global power systems company, in Raleigh, N.C.

E-mail to City Desk


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