Controversial Admiral Arranged Sub Trip

ByABC News
February 15, 2001, 8:08 AM

Feb. 15 -- The civilian guests on the U.S. Navy submarine that struck and sank a Japanese fishing boat were on a tour arranged by a former commander of American military forces in the Pacific who was fired over remarks he made after three American servicemen raped a 12-year-old Japanese girl.

The 15 civilians on the excursion, which the Navy arranged at the request of former Admiral Richard Macke, were all big donors to the USS Missouri Restoration Fund. The Missouri was a battleship on which the Japanese surrendered to end World War II.

Pacific Fleet spokesman Lt. Commander Conrad Chun confirmed that Macke made the tour request, but said that the former admiral was unable to accompany the group because of work commitments.

Macke was fired in November 1995, after he made a stunning statement to a group of reporters discussing the American servicemen who raped a Japanese schoolgirl in Okinawa.

"It was absolutely stupid," Macke said. "I've said several times, for the price they paid to rent the car, they could have had a girl."

Macke, who lives in Honolulu, is president for the Pacific region for Wheat International Communications Corporation, a Virginia-based telecommunications company. He did not return telephone calls to his home or office.

The revelation that Macke arranged the visit for the group and the nature of the guests themselves has raised questions about why the Navy has been so secretive about who the visitors to the submarine were.

Strained Relations

Two members of the excursion, Michael and Susan Nolan of Oahu, Hawaii, confirmed that they were on the Greeneville at the time of the collision. Michael Nolan refused to say any more about the incident, though, until he talks to the Navy and the National Transportation Safety Board, who are investigating the incident.

Though this incident has created controversy about the presence of civilians on board submarines, such visits are not uncommon. The Navy runs a program to arrange for civilian visitors, with most of the guests being family of submarine crew members.