The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

U.S. Sub Rams Japanese Boat:
Tax-payer Funded Joy Ride for U.S. Executives Turns into Tragedy

Feb 19, 2001

On February 9, a U.S. nuclear submarine, the USS Greeneville, rammed and sank a Japanese fishing and training trawler near Hawaii, killing nine of the people on the Japanese vessel. The submarine had been executing an extremely rapid surfacing maneuver when it struck the Japanese fishing boat and caused the tragic loss of life.

Since the accident, the U.S. Navy has not even had the decency to try to explain what actually happened and why the U.S. submarine was unaware of a 190-foot ship above it. Nor has it bothered to explain why after destroying the fishing boat, the sub didn’t even try to carry out a rescue and save anyone’s life, despite the fact that the sub was fully equipped for such a rescue, even with several highly trained divers on board.

Instead, from the beginning, the U.S. Navy has either told lies, or, under the guise of carrying out a supposed investigation, not said anything.

But in the first week after the accident, certain facts began to leak out. First, it came out that several civilians were present on the submarine. Who were these people? At first, the Navy made up some story about how a couple of Hawaiian businessmen had been allowed on board to improve relations with the local community. A couple of days later, however, it finally was revealed that instead of a couple of businessmen, there were 15 civilians on board–and they were not local people, but wealthy donors to the Republican Party, many of whom were Texas oilmen.

Of course, simply riding on a submarine for a day would have been too boring for them. There are no windows on a sub, and there is nothing to see outside. So, the Navy was providing them with exciting emergency maneuvers, blowing out the ballast tanks, rocketing to the surface faster than a speeding bullet, etc. And it turns out that two of them were allowed to handle the controls of the submarine during the emergency maneuvers, while the rest of them crowded in the already cramped control room.

In other words, the Navy was kindly providing members of the ruling class with an experience that they could all brag about later: a virtual joy ride on a big, bad war ship usually equipped with nuclear weapons.

What kind of punishment is meted out to joy riding, hit-and-run drivers, who don’t even stop to help the people they have just run over? Of course, in the real world if it is an ordinary person, they could be charged with a felony, manslaughter or worse. But for the privileged layers of society, the crime is usually hushed up, while money and perks change hands.

The fact that so far the Navy has done its best to shield all those responsible for the deaths of nine people only goes to show that there is truly a gaping double standard for these supposed upholders and executers of the law.