Sub Crash Report Will Not Blame Civilians

As a result those problems, including several documented assaults on local woman by American servicemen, the local government of the island adopted a resolution calling for a revision of an agreement on U.S. military forces to enable local police to detain criminal suspects more easily.

In that resolution, Okinawans asked for the military to hand over a Marine suspected in a series of arson attacks last month. Okinawa police have prepared an arrest warrant for 23-year-old Marine Lance Cpl. Kurt Billie on suspicion of setting fire to several restaurants.

It is possible that Bush's first opportunity for a personal apology over the accident could come as early as next month when Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori comes to the United States in early March to meet Bush, according to one Japanese newspaper.

Officials: Unlikely That Civilians Played a Role

Even before the Pentagon report, officials said they do not believe the 16 civilian guests on the submarine played a direct role in the incident, though they have not ruled that out.

The Navy told the public only Wednesday that the civilians were on board, and has since apologized for not earlier informing the public and the National Transportation Safety Board about their presence. The NTSB is conducting its own investigation into the crash because it involved a civilian vessel.

"Clearly, in hindsight, we could have done a much better job of making that information known not only to you all, but to the NTSB," said Pietropaoli. "I think people were assuming that the Navy would be the right ones to make that available, and we didn't do a good job of getting that out sooner."

NTSB spokesman John Hammerschmidt confirmed that a civilian was allowed to flip the Greeneville's ballast activation levers, which shoots the water out of its ballast tanks helping to raise the vessel quickly to the surface during the emergency maneuver.

He said that civilian and another civilian who was

seated at the helm

were being closely supervised at the time. In the case of the ballast levers, a member of the crew was standing next to the civilian and was said to guide the civilian's hand as the levers were pulled. At the helm, the Greeneville's helmsman stood over the other civilian.

Bush said the military would need to reconsider its policies regarding civilian visits during military exercises.

Officials say it's common practice to have civilian guests, including family members invited aboard vessels during exercises such as the one last Friday. But experts say it is not necessarily common for them to steer the vessel during a critical maneuver such as the emergency surfacing maneuver performed by the Greeneville.

"When you're doing something that's out of the ordinary, especially when you're testing an emergency procedure, which the ballast blow is, you don't want civilians within arm's length," submarine analyst and author Norman Polmar told ABCNEWS.

ABCNEWS.com's David Ruppe contributed to this report.

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