On February 9, 2001, Commander Waddle's "star burned out". On that fateful day, Commander Waddle forever changed the lives of 35 Japanese families (9 of those families lost a family member) forever when he hurriedly gave the order to perform an emergency surface maneuver that caused his 9,000 ton Los Angeles Class submarine to slice through the Ehime Maru, a 500 ton Japanese fishing and training vessel, killing nine people on board.
The Navy's investigation concluded that Commander Waddle, rushed his crew through mandatory safety/surfacing procedures while demonstrating an emergency surfacing drill for the benefit of 16 civilian VIP guests touring the 360-foot nuclear-powered submarine. Greeneville's rudder sliced into the hull of the Ehime Maru causing it to immediately sink in 200 feet of water off the island of Oahu, Hawaii.
The Navy's report said Waddle rushed through surfacing procedures because he didn't want the submarine's 16 VIP guests to be late returning to Pearl Harbor. Waddle did not attend the memorial on Wednesday. Several Japanese indicated they would not attend the memorial if he were present.
Waddle was reprimanded by a military court of inquiry but was allowed to retire as a Commander with full Navy retirement, which drew criticism in Japan that the punishment was too light. Waddle personally apologized to the Japanese shortly after the incident. Waddle's lawyer was Charlie Gittens, a
The Navy settled with the families of the 35 Japanese victims for $16.5 million. Damage to the Greeneville was $1.8 million; loss of Emihe Maru was $8.8 million; cost of recovering the Ehime Maru from the ocean floor was $60 million. Following the incident, Waddle wrote a book (THE RIGHT THING) and became a consultant and motivational speaker. Scott Waddle is self-described as an inspirational speaker, consultant and executive coach who has presented to thousands of audiences nationwide and abroad. His "Gold Star Speakers Bureau - Our Word is Gold" fee to speak on the following topics is between $10,000-$15,000 per event:
- Failure Is Not Final
- Saying, "I'm sorry" Works
- Communicate Effectively! It Doesn't Have To Be Lonely At The Top
The full NTSB report is HERE.
Court of Inquiry Report is HERE.