NEW YORK — Former USS Greeneville skipper Cmdr. Scott Waddle said Thursday the Navy was right to end his 20-year career after the submarine sank a Japanese fishing vessel and killed nine people.

"They were absolutely fair," said Waddle, appearing on CNN's "Larry King Live."

"If I were in their position, I would take the same stance," he said.

Wearing his dress white uniform, Waddle discussed the Feb. 9 sinking of the Ehime Maru for an hour. He said he plans to go to Japan next month to apologize to families of the nine men and boys killed.

Waddle called the accident "a case where teamwork on board the ship — and I was primarily responsible — failed. I took actions that at the time I thought were prudent, but in hindsight, were not."

The 41-year-old skipper was reprimanded Monday by Adm. Thomas Fargo, commander of the Pearl Harbor-based U.S. Pacific Fleet, for the sinking of the high school fisheries training ship from Uwajima.

Fargo permanently removed Waddle from command of the Greeneville and ordered him to show why the Navy should retain him if he does not voluntarily retire.

Waddle said he will retire by Oct. 1 and hopes to get a job in private industry. He will receive his full pension and benefits.

Waddle said he knew moments after the Greeneville surfaced underneath the Ehime Maru that his days as a sub captain were over.

"You don't hit something and not suffer from it, regardless of whether it's a buoy, a vessel," said Waddle, who had assumed command of the Greeneville in March 1999.

But he said the administrative punishment was appropriate and he did not deserve to be court-martialed, where a conviction could have led to a prison sentence.

"In this case it's very clear that criminal intent was not there," Waddle said.

The Greeneville was demonstrating a rapid-surfacing drill off Hawaii for 16 civilians guests when it rammed the Ehime Maru.

A Navy court of inquiry concluded Waddle rushed the submarine crew through its preparations for the surfacing drill and did not conduct a thorough enough periscope sweep before hand.

Although Waddle has said the guests' presence in the control room may have been a distraction, he told Larry King he defended the Navy community relations program that allows civilians on submarines at sea.

"Distinguished visitors program is one that is important because it helps educate America," Waddle said. "It's not just corporate executives, businessmen. We take young boys, girls educators, men and women from various walks of life, to educate them and inform them of what the submarine does."