Navy's Shared Responsibility

The Navy's investigation of the tragic collision between a US submarine and a Japanese fisheries training vessel clarified who was responsible - to a point.

The court of inquiry and admiral's disciplinary hearing placed major responsibility on Cmdr. Scott Waddle, the sub's captain. He was found negligent for not keeping tight control over his ship during a demanding maneuver involving a rapid ascent.

Commander Waddle, a promising officer on the way up, publicly acknowledged his errors and was formally reprimanded. His Navy career is over. But his punishment doesn't close all questions of responsibility.

The Navy steered a careful course away from a central factor - the presence of 16 civilians aboard the USS Greeneville, part of the service's cherished "distinguished visitor" program.

The sub wouldn't have been out to sea that day except to entertain the visitors. Normal procedures were curtailed to get them back to shore at a certain hour for other activities.

Navy policies and higher-up decisions that led to this situation share responsibility for the Greeneville incident. They should be aired and changes should be made in order to prevent future mishaps.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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