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USS Greeneville (SSN 772) incident

Court of Inquiry opening remarks

Remarks by Vice Adm. John Nathman

HONOLULU (March 5, 2001) -- Today, a Court of Inquiry convened here to begin a Navy investigation into the accident involving the USS Greeneville (SSN 772) and the Japanese fishing training vessel Ehime Maru. The opening remarks from the president of the Court of Inquiry, Vice Adm. John Nathman:

"Cmdr. Waddle, Lt. Cmdr. Pfeifer, Mr. Coen, counsel, ladies and gentlemen, good morning. I am Vice Adm. Nathman. I will be presiding over this court of inquiry into the collision between the USS Greeneville and the motor vessel Ehime Muru that occurred on 9 February 2001.

"Let me introduce the members of the court. To my right is Rear Adm. Sullivan, United States Navy, and to his right is Rear Adm. Stone, United States Navy.

"To my left, Rear Adm. Ozawa, of the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force. Rear Adm. Ozawa is here at the invitation of the convening authority, Adm. Fargo, Commander-in- Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet, to participate as an advisor and non-voting member of the court.

"Rear Adm. Ozawa will consult with the court's members and propose questions to be asked of the witnesses. He will also deliberate but will not vote. Rear Adm. Ozawa is not subject to challenge. I welcome his active participation in this court.

"This court has been directed to examine four issues by the convening authority.

"First, to inquire into the facts surrounding the collision between the Greeneville and Ehime Maru on 9 February and assess responsibility.

"Second, to examine the policies and practices of Commander, Submarine Force U.S. Pacific Fleet's implementation of the distinguished visitor embarkation program.

"Third, to examine the propriety of USS Greeneville's assigned operating area.

"And finally, to inquire into whether the Chief of Staff Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet and senior officer on board USS Greeneville on 9 February, was in a position to intervene and prevent the collision.

"The court will accomplish these directives by ascertaining the facts in an open, fair and thorough manner. Protecting the rights of the parties to the court throughout the proceedings. Protecting the integrity of the process by gathering facts and hearing evidence guided by established Navy rules and regulations pertaining to Courts of Inquiry.

"We intend to proceed diligently. At the end of these proceedings, the court will forward its findings of fact, opinions, and recommendations to the Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet for his consideration and review.

"The tragic consequences of the collision have impacted the lives of both Japanese and American families. While this inquiry cannot change what has happened, a more thorough understanding of what occurred on 9 February can serve to prevent a similar tragedy."

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Revised: 3/2/01