LOS ANGELES – A recent poll conducted in Honolulu found 56 percent of residents supported the U.S. Navy’s decision not to court-martial Cmdr. Scott Waddle, the former captain of the U.S. submarine Greeneville, for his role in the Feb. 9 collision of his sub with a Japanese fisheries training ship that left nine Japanese lost at sea.
A joint survey by a local daily, the Star Bulletin, and broadcasting company KITV4 found 36 percent of people were in favor of a court-martial for the captain.
In April, the navy imposed a nonjudicial punishment on Waddle, who was relieved of command of the submarine following its collision with the Ehime Maru off Hawaii, based on the recommendation of three admirals who sat on the bench of the Navy Court of Inquiry.
The punishment, known as an “admiral’s mast,” comprises a punitive letter of reprimand to be placed in Waddle’s military record, the forfeiture of half a month’s pay for two months, and his being formally stripped of the captaincy of the Greeneville.
The survey, which polled 539 Hawaiians, was conducted from May 5 to May 10.
When asked whether it was appropriate for U.S. authorities to apologize to Japan over the collision, 80 percent said it was appropriate, while 15 percent said it was not.
While 54 percent said civilians should not be allowed aboard U.S. submarines or military aircraft, 31 percent supported such practices.
The court of inquiry concluded in its report that one of the factors in the accident was that the sub’s crew put priority on entertaining the civilians on board rather than safety measures, and as a consequence, the presence of the civilians in the sub hindered communications among crew members.
The 6,080-ton Greeneville struck and sank the 499-ton Ehime Maru while the sub was conducting an emergency surfacing drill for the benefit of the civilian guests. The nine missing Japanese include four high school students, two of their teachers, and three crewmen.
The Navy’s decision provoked strong criticism from the families of missing Japanese, who felt the punishment imposed on the sub’s captain was not commensurate with his actions.
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