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Probe Didn't Go 'High Enough': Brindel : Blaming Him 'Only a Piece of the Puzzle,' Stark Captain Says

July 28, 1987|From Times Wire Services

WASHINGTON — The captain of the Navy frigate Stark, forced to retire at a lower rank because of the attack that killed 37 sailors on his ship, said in an interview published today that the investigation didn't go "high enough."

Capt. Glenn R. Brindel said he is disappointed in the military for blaming him without scrutinizing the actions of his superiors.

"The investigation didn't go high enough, but that's all I'll say about it," Brindel told the San Diego Union. "I'm very disappointed, but I will tell you that (the decision) is only a piece of the puzzle."

The interview was conducted Monday, when the Navy said Brindel and the Stark's weapons officer, Lt. Basil E. Moncrief, were reprimanded but will not be court-martialed for the ship's failure to defend itself against an Iraqi warplane. The two officers have agreed to end their naval careers.

The ship's second in command, Lt. Comdr. Raymond Gajun Jr., today received a letter of admonition, a lesser punishment, for his role in the incident.

The San Diego newspaper, quoting unidentified Navy sources, said earlier this month that the Stark had been conducting a "full-power run" of the ship's engine the night of the attack. Such tests should not be conducted in potential war zones such as the Persian Gulf because the crew could be distracted, the sources told the newspaper.

"Pacific Fleet ships are not allowed to perform this kind of training in the Persian Gulf, but the Atlantic Fleet is," Brindel said in the interview published today. The Stark, based in Mayport, Fla., is assigned to the Atlantic Fleet.

"It would please me if the Atlantic Fleet ended the practice of performing engineering (training) while a ship is operationally deployed in the Persian Gulf," Brindel said.

"The crew's attention had been less than what you would want in this area of operations," Brindel said. "The executive officer and myself, we weren't totally immersed in the training at all. I don't want to give that impression."

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