!! History Commons Alert, Exciting News
Profile: Thomas Fargo
Thomas Fargo was a participant or observer in the following events:
A close-up of the USS Greeneville, showing the gouges on her hull from the collision with the Ehime Maru. [Source: US Navy]The USS Greeneville, a fast-attack Los Angeles-class submarine, collides with the Japanese fishing training boat Ehime Maru, in the Pacific Ocean south of O’ahu, Hawai’i, sinking the vessel. Nine aboard the Ehime Maru are killed in the collision, including four high school students. [Honolulu Advertiser, 2/9/2001] The accident has political ramifications far beyond its immediate tragedy. The prime minister of Japan, Yoshiro Mori, will be forced to resign in part due to his callous response to the news. Already-fragile military relations between the US and Japan suffer further damage. And the accident is the first major foreign policy challenge for the new Bush administration. [Time, 4/15/2001] The next day Admiral Thomas Fargo, commander of the US Pacific Fleet, formally apologizes to the Japanese government and to the families of those killed in the collision. Fargo admits that the fault lay completely with the submarine, and says that the sub was surfacing after what is called an “emergency main ballast blow” when its stern collided with the fishing vessel. 16 civilians were on board, but initially the Navy fails to identify them, saying only that business leaders, lawmakers, and other notable civilians are routinely allowed on board naval vessels as part of the Navy’s community relations program. A Navy spokesman claims that the Greeneville’s mission is to support rescue operations. [Honolulu Advertiser, 2/10/2001] Secretary of State Colin Powell apologizes to the Japanese foreign minister the day afterwards; while National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice informs President Bush about the incident shortly after it happened, Bush chooses to let the State and Defense Departments handle the apologies and other official responses. [Gannett News Service, 2/11/2001] The Navy and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the collision, as will interested journalists, who will find that the Greeneville was on a mission to give what amounts to a pleasure cruise to a number of influential Republican corporate donors, mostly from the Texas oil and gas industries. Investigations find that some of those civilians were actually manning the controls of the submarine when it hit the Japanese vessel. (See February 14-April, 2001.)
The USS George Washington. [Source: Summer Anderson / Department of Defense]After the attack on the Pentagon, Navy ships and aircraft squadrons that are stationed, or at sea, along the coast of the United States are, reportedly, “rapidly pressed into action” to defend the country. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Vern Clark is evacuated from his office in the Pentagon after the building is hit, and soon relocates to the Navy’s Antiterrorist Alert Center in southeast Washington, DC, where a backup Navy command center is being established (see After 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). Clark later explains, “We had carriers at sea. I talked to Admiral Natter [Adm. Robert J. Natter, commander in chief, US Atlantic Fleet] and Admiral Fargo [Adm. Thomas B. Fargo, commander in chief, US Pacific Fleet] about immediate loadouts [of weapons and armed aircraft] and the positioning of our air defense cruisers. Fundamentally, those pieces were in place almost immediately and integrated into the interagency process and with the FAA [Federal Aviation Administration].” The aircraft carrier USS George Washington is currently at sea conducting training exercises. It is dispatched to New York, “following the recovery of armed F-14 Tomcats and F/A-18 Hornets from Naval Air Station Oceana,” in Virginia Beach, Virginia. According to Sea Power magazine, another aircraft carrier—the USS John F. Kennedy—that is departing Mayport, Florida, is ordered to patrol the waters off Hampton Roads, Virginia, “to protect the Navy’s vast shore complex in Norfolk.” [Associated Press, 9/12/2001; Sea Power, 1/2002; Notre Dame Magazine, 4/2007] The John F. Kennedy has nearly a full air wing of 75 fighter, attack, and reconnaissance planes aboard it, while the George Washington has only a limited number of aircraft on board. [Virginian-Pilot, 9/12/2001] Admiral Natter orders two amphibious ships—the USS Bataan and the USS Shreveport—to proceed to North Carolina, to pick up Marines from Camp Lejeune, in case additional support is needed in New York. “Within three hours, an undisclosed number of Aegis guided-missile cruisers and destroyers also were underway, their magazines loaded with Standard 2 surface-to-air missiles. Positioned off New York and Norfolk, and along the Gulf Coast, they provided robust early-warning and air-defense capabilities to help ensure against follow-on terrorist attacks.” Vern Clark later recalls that, after the Pentagon attack, “We were thinking about the immediate protection of the United States of America.” [Sea Power, 1/2002] Yet, according to CNN, it is not until 1:44 p.m. that the Pentagon announces that five warships and two aircraft carriers—the USS George Washington and the USS John F. Kennedy—are to depart the Naval Station in Norfolk, Virginia, so as to protect the East Coast (see 1:44 p.m. September 11, 2001). [CNN, 9/12/2001] And, according to some reports, the Navy only dispatches missile destroyers toward New York and Washington at 2:51 p.m. [Washington Post, 9/12/2001; Fox News, 9/13/2001; Associated Press, 9/11/2006]
Receive weekly email updates summarizing what contributors have added to the History Commons database
Developing and maintaining this site is very labor intensive. If you find it useful, please give us a hand and donate what you can.
If you would like to help us with this effort, please contact us. We need help with programming (Java, JDO, mysql, and xml), design, networking, and publicity. If you want to contribute information to this site, click the register link at the top of the page, and start contributing.