US Navy officers met today with local Japanese Government officials to explain possible disciplinary action facing the skipper of a submarine that sank a Japanese high school fishing training vessel.
Nine aboard the ship, including four students, died as a result of the February 9 collision when the USS Greeneville hit and sank the Ehime Maru nine miles off the coast of the island of Oahu in Hawaii.
Rear Admiral Robert Chaplin, commander of the US Naval Forces in Japan, and eight other officers met with Moriyuki Kato, the governor of Ehime prefecture (state), where the training ship was based, said a prefectural official who declined to give his name.
The meeting was held in the prefectural capital of Matsuyama.
The Navy officers were to meet later today with relatives of the nine victims in the city of Uwajima, where the fishing high school is located.
The prefectural official declined to reveal details, but Pacific Fleet spokesman Jon Yoshishige in Honolulu said the US side was to brief the Japanese on all punishment possibilities ranging from a court-martial to a letter of reprimand.
Yoshishige also said the visit was not an indication that a decision by Admiral Thomas Fargo, commander of the US Pacific Fleet, was coming any time soon.
Yoshishige would not comment on various news reports that the admirals who sat on the Court of Inquiry held into the sinking had urged against courts-martial for three of the sub’s officers: the now-relieved skipper Cmdr Scott Waddle; the executive officer, Lt Cmdr Gerald Pfeifer; and the officer of the deck, Lt Michael Coen.
Earlier this week, US defence officials said Cmdr Waddle is likely to receive punishment short of a court martial.
Last week, a panel of three admirals delivered its findings and recommendations to Fargo in a meeting at Pearl Harbour in Hawaii.
The Navy said the report would not be made public until Fargo decides what discipline, if any, the officers should face.