• Kyodo

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The U.S. Navy Court of Inquiry has recommended that the captain and fire control operator aboard the U.S. submarine that collided with a Japanese ship on Feb. 9 face admiral’s masts, a nonjudicial punishment, rather than courts-martial, a source close to the investigation said Wednesday.

It was also recommended that six others be reprimanded over the sinking of the Ehime Maru, and the loss of nine lives, by the USS Greeneville, the source said.

A 2,000-page court of inquiry report was submitted on April 13, but its contents were not disclosed at that time.

It is now up to Adm. Thomas Fargo, as the convening authority, to consider the recommendations submitted by Vice Adm. John Nathman, Rear Adm. Paul Sullivan and Rear Adm. David Stone, who presided over the March 5-20 court of inquiry in Honolulu.

The report is believed to contain recommendations that Cmdr. Scott Waddle and Petty Officer 1st Class Patrick Seacrest — who failed to inform Waddle that the Japanese fisheries training ship was closing in, rather than moving away — should receive the harshest punishment, the admiral’s mast, under Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Despite Waddle’s lawyer having earlier stated that Waddle would probably receive a letter of reprimand, sources close to the investigation believe he will instead face a one-month period of confinement in U.S. Navy facilities and forfeit his pay for the period.

Fargo is, however, expected to grant Waddle an honorable discharge. This would guarantee him a pension and status as a former serviceman, the sources said.

Lt. Cmdr. Gerald Pfeifer, the sub’s executive officer, and Lt. j.g. Michael Coen, the officer of the deck at the time, were named among the six others who will face lesser forms of punishment. Capt. Robert Brandhuber, chief of staff to the commander of the Pacific Fleet’s sub force, was also punished. The ranking officer aboard the sub at the time, he was accompanying 16 civilian guests. Although Fargo has a month to decide whether to follow the inquiry’s recommendations, he may make his decision this week.

Nine Japanese, including four high school students and two teachers, were lost at sea after the 499-ton Ehime Maru was hit and sunk by the 6,080-ton submarine.

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