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Navy Court of Inquiry Hears Testimonies Regarding Hawaii CollisionAired March 7, 2001 - 2:31 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: A U.S. Navy court of inquiry is back at work this hour in Hawaii looking into what happened aboard the USS Greeneville the day it hit and sank a Japanese fishing boat. Today, new questions as to whether the Greeneville's commander will tell his side of the story; here is CNN's Martin Savidge following the story from Honolulu -- Marty.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, we have been listening to testimony from Rear Admiral Charles Griffith, the Navy's lead investigator, but as the participants filed in to that hearing room this morning, still questions lingering about whether or not the commander of the USS Greeneville, Scott Waddle, will take the stand and testify.
His attorney had asked the U.S. Navy for what is referred to as testimonial immunity. He did that back on March 2. That has not been granted yet -- in fact, the Navy has not made a decision. It's deferring, basically, because it wants to hear from other witnesses to find out exactly whether or not the commander's testimony is essential to determining the facts as to what happened here.
The Navy has also put in a request into his attorney to say, all right, well, if the commander does take the stand, what exactly will he say? What can he add to this investigation? Reportedly, the attorney has not gotten back the to the Navy, so there is a sense that there is a negotiation going here on this very matter.
WATERS: What is this report we are hearing about a fire control technician might have been able to prevent this tragedy? What is that all about?
SAVIDGE: Well, there are about three officers that have been singled out as having the possibility to perhaps have intervened in some way, or at least raised their voice and say, wait a minute, I have a concern here, maybe we should slow down, maybe we should do this.
The fire control technician officer that you talk about; his specific duty is essentially to keep track of contacts on the surface -- it would normally in times of war be a person who would chart them in order to launch weapons against them. So, he was a person that knew or should have had an indication as to what vessels were in the nearby area coming in from the sonar reports. He apparently did know there's a vessel nearby; however, when it was begun as far the surfacing, apparently didn't raise his voice. Now, one of the questions was asked, why didn't he do that? Apparently, one, because of the crowd of civilians that were there. And also, two, he said, quite frankly, I thought the commander had things well in hand, thought he knew everything that was going on, so he didn't speak forward. That, the Navy says, is regrettable.
WATERS: Why would he think the commander had everything well in hand if he had a so-called urgent report of a vessel on the surface?
SAVIDGE: Well, these are the questions that immediately pop into mind, and these are questions that will be more in depthly looked upon by the court of inquiry here. One of the things that the court has pointed out in this initial report that has come in from Admiral Griffith is that you should not consider his testimony the final word, the final say, it's all said and done, we can go home.
Not by any means. The court of inquiry here -- their sole purpose here is to figures out what happened; they will get to those questions but there is a procedure at which they follow, so it's likely that we will see this fire control technician take the witness stand. He has not even been identified at this particular...
WATERS: All right, Marty, we have to cut away. The vice president is up on Capitol Hill speaking with reporters.
(INTERRUPTED BY LIVE EVENT)
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