Pearl Harbor, HI USS ENTERPRISE Fire, Jan 1969
NAVY STATES CASUALTIES MAY BE HEAVY.
Pearl Harbor (UPI) -- A fire, followed by about a dozen explosions, erupted on the flight and hangar decks of the nuclear carrier USS Enterprise today.
A Navy spokesman said casualties were expected to be heavy.
The incident occurred while the carrier, the world's largest warship, was on maneuvers about 75 miles southwest of here in preparation for deployment to Vietnam.
The Navy issued a plea for military personnel and civilians in Honolulu to donate blood.
"There has been no report of the extent of casualties but they are expected to be heavy," the Navy spokesman said.
The 1,123-foot vessel has a crew of 4,600 men.
The carrier reported the fire was "major in degree."
But the cause of the fire and extent of damage was not immediately reported.
At Tripler Army Hospital in Honolulu a spokesman said, "we are prepared for a mass influx of casualties."
The Navy spokesman said "the fire which covered the after end of the hangar and flight decks has been extinguished with the exception of a small fire in the vicinity of the after elevator. The Enterprise reported 10 to 12 explosions on the aft end of the ship."
Coast Guard, Marine and Air Force helicopters were rushed to the scene with doctors and blood. They also were instructed to search for men who might have been blown over the side by the explosions.
The carrier was ordered to return to Pearl Harbor at a reduced speed and was expected to arrive about 2 p.m.
The last major fire aboard a U.S. aircraft carrier occurred on July 29, 1967, when a rocket exploded aboard the giant carrier Forrestal while it was on combat duty in the Gulf of Tonkin off Vietnam.