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TIME: Greeneville skipper says he didn't give crew time to do their jobs

Commander Scott Waddle
Commander Scott Waddle  

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Concentration interference

Report: Court-martial not recommended


HONOLULU, Hawaii (CNN) -- The commander of a U.S. submarine involved in February's fatal collision with a Japanese training vessel said he didn't give his crew the time they needed to do their jobs, TIME magazine reports.

Navy Cmdr. Scott Waddle told TIME he would "give my life if it meant one of those nine lives lost could be brought back."

Waddle also reportedly said he believes that civilian visitors on the USS Greeneville during the February 9 collision were a factor in the disaster, which claimed the lives of nine people on the Ehime Maru.

Concentration interference

"Having them in the control room at least interfered with our concentration," Waddle told TIME, referring to the civilian visitors.

Waddle reportedly said that when he raised the vessel's periscope after the collision, "I saw all those little people tumbling in the water. I felt disbelief, regret, remorse, anxiety, rage, denial."

"I didn't cause the accident. I gave the orders that resulted in the accident," he said. "And I take full responsibility."

"I cannot tell you how easy it would have been for me to say it wasn't my fault -- that the guys who worked for me made the mistakes. But I couldn't in good faith do that," he said.

The Greeneville collided with the Ehime Maru during a maneuver called an "emergency blow," in which the submarine surfaces rapidly. The submarine was at sea off Oahu, Hawaii, to demonstrate the Greeneville's capabilities to a group of 16 dignitaries, part of a Navy program to build public support for the submarine service.

Report: Court-martial not recommended

Last month, three admirals, sitting as a court of inquiry, heard testimony from 38 witnesses about the incident, including Waddle. They have submitted a report to the commander of the Pacific Fleet, who will decide whether to court-martial Waddle, which could result in prison time, or give him some lesser form of punishment.

The New York Times reported Sunday that the three admirals have recommended against a court-martial for Waddle.

The commander told TIME that he has trouble sleeping since the collision, and he broke down several times during the interviews.

"I am not tired of apologizing," Waddle said. "But I am tired of crying. It kills me that nine people died because of an accident."

Waddle gave the order to conduct the emergency blow after taking the periscope himself and doing a search. He told TIME he now believes he was pushing ahead too quickly to complete the trip, which was behind schedule.

"I didn't give the men the time they needed to do their jobs. I was so confident in my abilities and what I had seen, I was convinced the ship was safe to carry out those maneuvers," Waddle said.

Divided court of inquiry gives recommendations on Navy sub incident
April 13, 2001
Pacific Fleet commander to be briefed on submarine accident
April 12, 2001
Waddle urged civilians to tell the truth
March 21, 2001
Sub inquiry ends after skipper testifies
March 20, 2001
Commander denied immunity in sub inquiry
March 19, 2001
Families of missing ask sub skipper to not seek immunity
March 17, 2001
Greeneville skipper apologizes to Ehime Maru captain
March 14, 2001
Navy sub collision inquiry gets first eyewitness testimony
March 13, 2001
U.S. Navy may OK attempt to raise Japanese ship
March 12, 2001
Sub skipper's family speaks out about collision
March 11, 2001

NTSB transcripts: Greeneville/Ehime Maru 031201
U.S. Coast Guard
CINCPACFLT :: USS Greeneville (SSN 772) incident
City of Uwajima's memorial site
U.S. Navy
 • CINCPACFLT statement on the USS Greeneville incident
 • Commander Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet
 • USS Greeneville

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4:30pm ET, 4/16

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