Ehime Maru and USS Greeneville Collision - Immediate Aftermath

Immediate Aftermath

Shortly after the incident occurred, Japanese prime minister Yoshirō Mori was informed of the accident as he played golf in Japan. Acknowledging the message, Mori resumed his round of golf ending it an hour and a half after the first message, an action for which he was later heavily criticized, owing in part to the use of stock photographs taken the previous summer showing Mori enjoying his round of golf.

Since the collision involved a commercial vessel, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) had jurisdiction to conduct the investigation into the accident. An NTSB official, along with several USN and USCG officers, questioned Waddle and Pfeifer about the incident as soon as Greeneville moored at Pearl Harbor. That same day, Admiral Konetzni removed Waddle as captain of Greeneville and reassigned him to his staff pending the outcome of the accident investigation.

Two days after the sinking of the civilian craft, on 11 February, U.S. President George W. Bush apologized for the accident on national television, stating, "I want to reiterate what I said to the prime minister of Japan: I'm deeply sorry about the accident that took place; our nation is sorry." The United States Secretary of State Colin Powell and United States Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld also publicly apologized. The U.S. ambassador to Japan, Tom Foley, personally apologized to both Prime Minister Mori and to the Emperor of Japan. Also on 11 February, during an "extremely emotional exchange", the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet Admiral Thomas B. Fargo, personally apologized to families of the Ehime Maru's victims, who had arrived in Hawaii the day before. Several of the family members asked that Ehime Maru be raised from the ocean floor. Waddle had asked to accompany Fargo to apologize to the victims' families as well, but the COMSUBPAC public affairs office told him that he could not. The next day, the family members were taken by boat to view the accident site.

The perceived lack of remorse by Waddle, plus reports in the Japanese media that Greeneville had made no effort to assist Ehime Maru's survivors as they waited for almost one hour for rescue angered many Japanese citizens, especially the family members of the ship's missing crewmembers. One Japanese family member publicly referred to Waddle as, "the most terrible criminal of them all." Another family member, referring to Waddle said, "If you're a man, you should fall on your knees and ask for our pardon!" In response, Waddle delivered letters of apology to the Japanese consulate in Hawaii for delivery to the victims' families during the last week of February.

Japanese government officials publicly expressed concern over the reports that civilians had been at Greeneville's controls during the collision. Japan's foreign minister, Yōhei Kōno, complained that U.S. officials had not provided details on the civilians' involvement, stating, "I cannot help but say it is an extremely grave situation if it were the case that the participation of civilians in the submarine's surfacing maneuver led to the accident."


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