- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 15, 2001

Most of the 16 VIP guests aboard the USS Greeneville when the submarine accidentally rammed and sank a Japanese fishing vessel were recommended for the trip by a retired admiral whose callous remarks got him in hot water with Japan in 1995.
Defense sources told The Washington Times that retired Adm. Richard C. Macke, who commanded all U.S. forces in the Pacific, sponsored a majority of the 16 business leaders on the Greeneville. Some manned control stations during the Greeneville's ill-fated rush to the surface and are a focus of two investigations.
A Navy spokesman in Honolulu confirmed last night that Adm. Macke made the tour request.
"Adm. Macke was not on board USS Greeneville, but was scheduled to accompany the group," Pacific Fleet spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Conrad Chun told reporters. "He did not embark Greeneville due to work commitments."
Cmdr. Chun stressed that the Navy sets up the tour trips and that retired military personnel commonly make such requests.
The Friday accident nine miles off the Hawaiian coast has threatened to strain U.S.-Japanese relations. Some survivors accuse the Greeneville's crew of failing to help in the rescue effort.
The U.S. Coast Guard last night said it could end its search for survivors from the Ehime Maru within 24 hours, saying the nine missing fishing-boat passengers are probably dead.
Adm. Macke's referrals embroil him in a U.S.-Japanese dispute for a second time.
In 1995, during the height of outrage over the rape of a Okinawa schoolgirl by three U.S. servicemen, Adm. Macke outraged the Japanese by telling reporters the accused could have hired a prostitute for the cost of the rental car they used in the crime.
"I think it was absolutely stupid," he said then, adding, "I've said several times, for the price they paid to rent the car, they could have had a girl."
The Navy forced Adm. Macke to give up the prestigious job of Pacific commander and to retire. But his troubles were not over.
In 1996, the Navy censured the four-star officer for maintaining a close personal relationship with a junior female officer. It also said he wasted government money on personal long-distance calls to her.
He once kept an airplane and crew waiting three days during an off-duty stay with the Marine officer at a hotel. Adm. Macke denied the relationship was improper.
The year he was censured, a Vienna, Va.-based firm, Wheat International Communications, hired Adm. Macke as vice president for Pacific Rim operations. The person who answered the phone yesterday at Adm. Macke's Honolulu office said the retired admiral was unavailable to comment.
The Pentagon repeatedly has refused to identify the 16 civilians, arguing that to release the guests' names would violate their right to privacy as citizens.
"I think that when [the Navy] take guests on board, they don't automatically surrender their rights to privacy," said Rear Adm. Craig Quigley, a Pentagon spokesman. "And they've asked their names not be released, and we're honoring that."
The Navy and former commanders yesterday defended the practice of inviting guests on brief submarine training missions.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said in an interview on PBS' "NewsHour With Jim Lehrer" that it is "a very normal thing" for civilians to be aboard Navy ships and submarines at sea. Asked if there was any indication they interfered with the crew he said, "None whatsoever."
He added: "It's not unusual when an aircraft carrier or submarine is steaming that they take distinguished visitors out who have been helpful to the Navy."
The civilians' role in the one-day training exercise has taken on new importance after disclosure this week that two sat at the controls as the Greeneville executed an "emergency blow" from a 400-foot ocean depth to the surface.
In the rush to the surface, the submarine sank the Japanese boat as the sub's rudder opened a gash in the stricken ship's keel.
Navy officials and a submarine ex-commander are downplaying the significance of letting civilians sit at watch stations.
They say the Greeneville's course to the surface is not the key issue. Rather, it is why the ship's commander, Cmdr. Scott Waddle of Austin, Texas, did not detect the 174-foot fishing boat either through passive sonar or a periscope scan of Pacific waters minutes before the Greeneville submerged and executed the "blow."
The Navy has relieved Cmdr. Waddle of command, pending a probe by Rear Adm. Charles Griffiths Jr., a submarine group commander, and by the National Transportation Safety Board.
Another issue is whether the civilians in any way provided a distraction in the control room during the periscope search or while sailors and officers monitored sonar screens as the sub prepared to surface. Living and working space in Los Angeles-class subs, such as the Greeneville, has grown tighter over the years as designers fitted them with updated equipment.
Normally, about six crewmen work in the tight confines of the control room. The Navy has not said how many of the 16 guests were in the room.
Lt. Cmdr. Cate Mueller, a Navy spokeswoman at the Pentagon, declined to discuss these issues pending results of investigations.
The Pacific Fleet alone last year took 1,329 civilian visitors aboard submarines for short training missions, including 213 at the Greeneville home port of Hawaii.
A retired Navy officer, who commanded submarines, said in an interview he routinely took civilians on such public relations trips. The ex-officer, who asked to remain anonymous, also said he allowed the guests to sit at the controls, including the helm that guides direction, during a "blow."
"The 'Silent Service' is trying to get people to understand what submarine life is like," he said. "At the helm, they are actually controlling the boat. But there is a guy standing next to him to make sure he's put on the right degree. During an emergency blow test, there's not much that person does. The ship is moving on the air being pushed into the ballast tank. Like a cork held underneath the water, when you release it the buoyancy brings it to the surface."
The crucial question, the source said, is why the crew apparently failed to detect the oncoming vessel. In the periscope scan, whoever manned the scope may not have had it high enough out of the water. Or, ocean swells may have blocked the periscope's 10-mile range.
In the collision, the ship passed over the Greeneville as it surfaced, indicating the two vessels had been headed directly at each other. In this case, the sub's passive sonar, in a phenomenon know as "bow null" may not have been able to pick up the sounds of propellers or the engine.
Also, the former commander said, water temperature or density may have blocked sound on the surface from sonar detection.
"They did not pick the ship up. Why is the big question," he said.
A submarine has two directional controls manned by a helmsman and planesman. The helmsman controls the course direction by manipulating the rudder. The planesman controls external flaps for vertical movements.
Another crucial timeline is how long the ship took to surface once the periscope came down and the ship submerged to 400 feet.
Navy officials have indicated the time lapse was no more than 15 minutes. One source said the sub only lingered for four minutes.

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