Pearl Harbor, HI USS ENTERPRISE Fire, Jan 1969

Enterprise On Fire 1-14-1969.jpg Enterprise on Fire 1-14-1969 2.jpg

One hundred and thirty-four men died as jet fuel ignited the entire four-acre flight deck of the Forrestal in one of the worst disasters in U.S. Naval history.

In October 1966, 43 men died when the aircraft carrier Oriskany caught fire in the Gulf of Tonkin.

San Mateo Times California 1969-01-14



Pearl Harbor (UPI) -- Naval disaster teams Wednesday boarded the nuclear carrier USS Enterprise to seek the cause of fiery explosions that left 25 sailors dead or missing and scores injured.

They also were directed to assess damages to the world's largest warship and plan emergency repairs.

"We are quite confident that we will find out exactly what did happen," said Adm. John J. Hyland, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

The casualty list was revised downward after the crew of the flame-scarred "Big E" was mustered for "a tightly controlled" headcount. The Navy previously reported as many as 42 dead or missing.

The muster showed 24 crewmen dead, one missing and 85 injured.

The check of the 5,400 crewmen was hampered because many were taking part in cleanup work and "other necessary activities for the welfare of the ship's officers and men," a spokesman said.

"Positive identification of all casualties were made."
The 90,000 ton Enterprise was on a bombing practice mission Tuesday when thunderous explosions rocked the vessel and flames swept across the rear end of the flight and hangar decks.

"What caused the explosion we don't know," said Capt. Kent L. Lee, Piedmont, Calif., when the quarter-mile long Enterprise limped into Pearl Harbor eight hours later.

Admiral Hyland told newsmen at a briefing Wednesday the tragedy was touched off by a blast on the flight deck.