Ehime Maru and USS Greeneville collision
The Ehime Maru and USS Greeneville collision occurred in February of 2001. The Ehime Maru was a Japanese fishing vessel, while the USS Greeneville was a United States Navy submarine.
On the morning in question, the Ehime Maru was in the middle of a 74 day voyage designed to train high school students planning to become commercial fisherman. The USS Greeneville was conducting a Distinguished Visitor Embarkation trip, part of a program to invite notable guests to observe the Navy in action to make the case for the importance of continued funding and maintaining a strong Navy. On this voyage, sixteen such civilians were on board.
Prior to the Ehime Maru and USS Greeneville collision, the submarine performed a number of maneuvers. The USS Greeneville then prepared to perform an emergency surfacing procedure. Prior to this maneuver, Navy member Patrick Seacrest noticed that the Ehime Maru was visible on the sonar, but then recorded it as moving away from the vessel. He determined that it would be safe to ascend. Prior to the ascent, commander Scott Waddle examined the sonar and periscope but determined that the vessel was moving away.
The Ehime Maru and USS Greeneville collision occurred as the submarine rose beneath the fishing vessel, dividing the craft above it. Nine of those on board the Ehime Maru died following the collision. Japanese public outrage was increased by the slow rescue of the Ehime Maru's passengers. A National Transportation Safety Board investigation was opened. Additionally, the Navy decided to hold a public court of inquiry hearing regarding the Ehime Maru and USS Greeneville collision. This procedure was held before a panel comprised of three admirals. The purpose of such a hearing is to obtain evidence that can be used at a later date in a court martial.
Prior to the hearing commander Scott Waddle requested immunity from court martial regarding the Ehime Maru and USS Greeneville collision but had his request rejected. However, Patrick Seacrest received immunity prior to providing his witness testimony. Following the hearings, the court of inquiry issued its report regarding the cause of the Ehime Maru and USS Greeneville collision. They determined that the underlying issue was a series of failures to follow proper procedure, exacerbated by Waddle's desire to impress the visitors on board, and concluded that he bore sole responsibility for the incident.
In addition to the procedural errors committed that led to the Ehime Maru and USS Greeneville collision, the court of inquiry noted that the civilian presence on board was a distraction contributing to overall negligence. The court of inquiry advised against court martial proceedings against Scott Waddle or his crew members on the grounds their actions were not deliberate or criminal in intention. Scott Waddle was subsequently fined and told he would have to resign. Several other crew members received administrative admonishments. Scott Waddle resigned from the Navy in October of that year.