PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii -- Respect for the USS Greene-ville's commanding officer may have stopped the crew from voicing misgivings about his orders the day the submarine crashed into a Japanese fishing boat, a Navy admiral testified.
Cmdr. Scott Waddle was widely respected by the Greeneville crew that had a track record of success, and the crew had come to trust the captain's hands-on approach, said Rear Adm. Charles Griffiths Jr.
But the submarine's second-in-command was quietly concerned the Greeneville was preparing too swiftly for an emergency surfacing drill before it struck and sank the Ehime Maru on Feb. 9, said Griffiths, who headed a preliminary investigation into the collision.
Lt. Cmdr. Gerald Pfeifer's silence apparently was not due to intimidation, Griffiths said Tuesday at a Navy court of inquiry into the collision nine miles south of Diamond Head.
"This was not a command where people were shot when they brought things to the commanding officer," Griffiths said. "It's more a respect for his abilities and, 'If he says that's the way, well that's OK for me."'
Waddle's authority also was respected from above. A higher-ranking Navy official who was leading 16 civilian guests on a tour of the submarine that day was aware the excursion's schedule might be rushed but did not intervene.
Capt. Robert Brandhuber, chief of staff of the U.S. Pacific Fleet's submarine force, should have "had a sense that corners were being cut" during preparations for the surfacing drill that led to the collision, Griffiths said.
He said Brandhuber believed things were going "too quick for the complexity of the evolutions and their importance," but he didn't say anything because he felt his concerns were not serious enough to bring to the captain's attention.
On the other hand, Griffiths said it was Pfeifer's "duty to bring up concerns he has with the way the ship's operating. I don't know why he didn't bring them up."
Waddle's civilian attorney, Charles Gittins, said Wednesday that much of Griffiths' testimony has been "based on incomplete and erroneous data."
Gittins also criticized Griffiths for "his failure personally to interview the witnesses whose secondhand statements he bases his opinions upon."
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