The former skipper of the Greeneville, the U.S. Navy submarine that struck and sank the Ehime Maru off Hawaii in February, believes he was made a scapegoat over the incident, according to a translated first-person account published in a Japanese weekly magazine.
In the Shukan Shincho that hit newsstands Tuesday, former Cmdr. Scott Waddle said he and his crew did everything they were meant to do until the moments leading up to the Feb. 9 collision with the fisheries training vessel and afterward.
Waddle said he had believed that the U.S. Navy would understand this and would strive to protect him and his crew in the aftermath of the incident, in which nine people died.
He added, however, that the U.S. Navy did not care about him as an individual and that he had learned the lesson that the navy protects the organization over the individual.
He said that, in order to save itself, the navy needed to single out one person to take responsibility over the incident and chose him.
The navy’s explanation for the accident — that Waddle had run through standard operating procedures faster than normal or had omitted some procedures — also shocked him, he said.
Waddle maintained that, placed in the same situation again, he is confident he would take the same actions he took on Feb. 9. He claimed that a number of unfortunate coincidental factors contrived to cause the tragedy and he said the collision was not the result of a single incident or error.
Waddle added that he still hopes to keep his promise to visit Japan and apologize to family members of the victims of the Ehime Maru, which belonged to the Uwajima Fisheries High School in Ehime Prefecture.
Four of the nine who died when the 499-ton Ehime Maru was struck by the 6,080-ton Greeneville were students.
Waddle voiced regret over the deaths and his sadness that the remains of one of the nine victims was not recovered during a 20-day search of the vessel.
Waddle was relieved of command after the collision and retired from the navy on Sept. 30 after being given an honorable discharge.
He said that although he has received some job offers, he is still considering his options and has not yet decided on a new career.