An admiral has testified that a lunch for guests aboard a US submarine forced a delay in the surfacing manoeuvre that ended in a collision with a Japanese boat.
Rear Admiral Charles Griffiths was the first to testify at a court of inquiry in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, into the collision that left nine Japanese boys and men dead.
The USS Greeneville, a nuclear attack submarine, was demonstrating an emergency surfacing drill for 16 civilians when it knifed through the hull of the Ehime Maru.
The boat, carrying 35 people, was teaching school pupils from Uwajima, Japan, how to fish. Four teenagers, two teachers and three crewmen were never found.
Griffiths described a series of events and problems on the day of the accident, including broken equipment, inadequate supervision for a sonar trainee and delays that may have encouraged a rush to get back on schedule.
The surfacing drill had been planned for 1pm, but it was pushed back until 1.43pm because lunch dragged on, he said. The crew had to feed guests in two shifts because the mess hall was so small.
Griffiths was asked if anyone expressed concern about the delay.
"I don't know if I would say concerned," he said. "A professional reminder was provided by the navigator to the executive officer to the commanding officer that the ship was behind schedule."
Griffiths said that Commander. Scott Waddle responded: "I have it under control."
Griffiths said Waddle emphasised spending quality time chatting with his guests during the lunch break.
"He took his time so that ran over," he said.