WASHINGTON – Officers aboard the submarine USS Greeneville suggested measures to deal with the press following the sub’s collision with a Japanese fisheries training ship in February, CBS television reported Monday.
CBS said it has obtained a navy transcript of communications between the Greeneville and its base in Pearl Harbor on the day of the collision in which the Greeneville’s officers suggested separately offering explanations on the accident to its crew and 16 civilian guests as a measure to deal with the press.
The 6,080-ton nuclear attack sub hit the 499-ton Ehime Maru at 1:43 p.m. on Feb. 9 off Hawaii during a rapid surfacing demonstration conducted for the civilian guests.
The Ehime Maru sank and nine Japanese, including four teenage students from Uwajima Fisheries High School in Ehime Prefecture, were lost at sea in the accident.
According to CBS, the Greeneville suggested, “we bring the visitors off separately . . . put them on a small boat and we can debrief them away from the ship’s crew about, you know, future press interest.”
Asked if the submarine would return at night or in daylight, the Greenville replied, “We prefer to see daylight,” but it acknowledged that a daylight return would involve “running the risk of a little bit of press,” CBS said.
The Greeneville radioed the command center three minutes after the collision, using a signal reserved for serious incidents, saying, “Have experienced collision with surface vessel . . . vessel appears to be taking on water and sinking at this time . . . have coast guard contacted immediately . . . to render assistance,” CBS reported.
The communications reveal that at first, the Greeneville crew believed the sub had hit a whale-watching boat and there was confusion about how many people were in life rafts and how many were missing, according to the television report.
The command asked “Was it a normal surfacing or emergency surfacing for visitors?” and the sub replied, “It was an emergency surfacing for visitors,” CBS said.
The transcript was submitted to the U.S. Navy Court of Inquiry into the collision, the open part of which ended March 20 after hearing 33 witnesses over 12 days.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.