The 20-year Navy career of Commander Scott Waddle is over, his lawyer said yesterday. Waddle said he will retire by Oct. 1.
Waddle, 41, could have faced a court-martial on charges of negligent homicide. Instead, a three-month Navy investigation found Waddle guilty of dereliction of duty and placing his vessel in a hazardous situation. He will retire at his current rank with a full pension and benefits.
The U.S.S. Greeneville surfaced under the Japanese fishing trawler Ehime-Maru Feb. 9 during a demonstration of an emergency rapid ascent conducted primarily for the benefit of 16 civilian guests on board that day. The Japanese boat sank within minutes. Nine men and boys drowned.
Admiral Thomas B. Fargo, commander of the Pacific Fleet and a key member of the investigative panel, said Waddle had “paid dearly” for the accident by ending a promising career.
The Japanese government appears satisfied with the verdict and interprets the punishment of Waddle as an admission of fault.
“With the measures taken against Waddle and others, their liability has been made clear,” Kazuhiko Koshikawa, a spokesman for Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, told The Associated Press today. “These decisions were made under U.S. rules and the Japanese government does not at this point plan to make any specific demand to the United States.”
But residents in the hometown of the victims said they were outraged by the leniency of the verdict.
“The punishment is absolutely not one that the families can accept,” Moriuki Kato, governor of the Ehime prefecture, said. “I had hoped they would give him the utmost, strictest reprimand.”
Waddle’s lawyer said the commander has already received several offers of civilian employment.