Savannah, GA (70 Miles Off Coast) Minesweeper Fire, Aug 1960

USS Exultant.jpg


Savannah, Ga. (UPI) -- An explosion in the aft engine room of the minesweeper U.S.S. Exultant killed five crewmen Friday night in a tragedy at sea 70 miles off the Georgia coast.
Fire following the explosion raged for an hour in holds of the ship, apparently fed by fuel oil leaking from blast-ruptured lines. Crews from the Exultant and a sister minesweeper, U.S.S. Nimble, braved flames, smoke and fumes in narrow passageways to extinguish the fire.
The Navy had few details of the accident pending a shipboard investigation and inspection headed by Capt. W. E. Benbow, commandant of Mine Squadron Eight, who went immediately from Charleston, S.C., and boarded the disabled sweeper.
The 165-foot vessel was under tow and was expected to be brought to Savannah early Saturday night.
The Navy withheld names of the crewmen killed pending notification of next of kin. It said there were no other casualties or injuries reported among the four officers and 60 crewmen aboard.
Dmage was believed confined mostly to the aft engine room and aft holds. The 700-ton vessel, diesel-powered, has two engine rooms and a wooden hull.
The Exultant was in a flotilla of four modern Navy minesweepers from Atlantic Fleet Mine Force, Charleston, en route to Miami, Fla., for demonstration and exhibition.
The explosion occurred in early evening -- the Coast Guard resceived a report at 6:48 p.m. est. --
about the time most of the crew was at mess. The Nimble, apparently nearest the Exultant, sent a firefighting crew aboard.
The Coast Guard dispatched a 95-foot patrol boat and a merchant vessel, the S.S. Tropicana, also gave assistance. The Navy dispatched two destroyers, the Cone and Ellison, to the scene and Benbow left Charleston aboard the minesweeper Sagacity.
The Sagacity was the replacement for the Exultant in the flotilla which continued to Miami.
The Nimble first took over towing the Exultant and was relieved by a commercial tug at the mouth of the Savannah River early Saturday afternoon.

Galveston Daily News Texas 1960-08-14

Name of the Casualties:
Engineman 2nd Class THOMAS S. BAKER.
Engineman 2nd Class JACKIE W. BYRD.
Engineman 3rd Class WILLIAM C. GLENN.
Engineman 3rd Class MICHAEL J. NEMETH.