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During the inquiry it emerged that some of the crew on the U.S.S. Greeneville may have made errors that contributed to the accident: failing to realize from sonar readings that the Ehime Maru was 4,000 yds. away and closing; and neglecting to oversee the flow of information properly in the control room. And in the past week Waddle has reversed his previously benign view of the presence of civilians on board. He now thinks the 16 visitors were also a factor in the accident: "Having them in the control room at least interfered with our concentration."
The Greeneville's only reason to put out to sea on Feb. 9 was that Waddle had been told two weeks before that retired Admiral Richard Macke had put together a Distinguished Visitors' Program for the submarine that day. The program was set up by the Navy to win favor for the submarine service from Congressmen and other opinion leaders, and the Greeneville had made several such trips for visitors under Waddle's command. Not only did the visitors crowd the control room, but because Waddle spent so much time with them over lunch, the ship also fell behind schedule, giving Waddle added impetus to move quickly through the series of maneuvers he had designed to impress them.
In the end Waddle was the captain entrusted with the ship, and he and the entire Navy knew what that meant. On March 20 Waddle took the stand during the inquiry, even though he had not been granted immunity from self-incrimination. Taking command of the Greeneville was "an awesome responsibility," he said. "I have no less of a responsibility to stand up and explain the exercise of my judgment as commanding officer...I made a mistake or mistakes...These mistakes were honest and well intentioned." He then submitted to six hours of strenuous questioning from three admirals for whom the term accident was never going to suffice.
"The general opinion on the waterfront was that it was important that he stand up and take responsibility," says Commander Mark Patton, a classmate of Waddle's at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., 20 years ago, and now deputy commander for readiness in a submarine squadron in Pearl Harbor. "We wanted to see that happen. It was important for the public to see that happen. And he did that very well."
But to admit that he made mistakes, that his command was somehow less than perfect, has been a bitter journey of self-discovery for Waddle. All his career he has driven himself to excel. "I was so hungry for attention I would do almost anything to prove I was good," he says. He craved the approval of his peers and his superior officers--perhaps to make up for what he missed from his father, who was divorced from his mother when Scott was 11. He aspired to be at the top, looking down. Most of his fellow officers expected him to make it at least as far as commander of the Pacific Submarine Fleet. He had strong backing from the current submarine chief, Rear Admiral Al Konetzni. But last Wednesday, as the Greenville pulled out of Pearl Harbor without him on board, Waddle was at the very bottom.