Jan 14, 1969: Explosion Rocks USS Enterprise

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An explosion aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise kills 27 people in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on this day in 1969. A rocket accidentally detonated, destroying 15 planes and injuring more than 300 people.

The Enterprise was the first-ever nuclear-powered aircraft carrier when it was launched in 1960. It has eight nuclear reactors, six more than all subsequent nuclear carriers. The massive ship is over 1,100 feet long and carries 4,600 crew members.

At 8:19 a.m. on January 14, a MK-32 Zuni rocket that was loaded on an F-4 Phantom jet overheated due to the exhaust from another vehicle. The rocket blew up, setting off a chain reaction of explosions. Fires broke out across the deck of the ship, and when jet fuel flowed into the carrier’s interior, other fires were sparked. Many of the Enterprise’s fire-protection features failed to work properly, but the crew worked heroically and tirelessly to extinguish the fire.

In all, 27 sailors lost their lives and another 314 were seriously injured. Although 15 aircraft (out of the 32 stationed on the Enterprise at the time) were destroyed by the explosions and fire, the Enterprise itself was never threatened.

The USS Enterprise was repaired over several months at Pearl Harbor and returned to action later in the year.

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3 comments on “Jan 14, 1969: Explosion Rocks USS Enterprise
  1. Jan 14, 1969: Explosion Rocks USS Enterprise | Censorship in America…

    Here at World Spinner we are debating the same thing……

  2. Renee Sedivy-Cimpanelli says:

    I am writting in behalf of my cousin and her ex=husband, I am looking for Fred Lindell, he was from Escalon, Ca. He was a dear Friend of my cousin and her then Husband. Her name at that time was Cindy Bishop- Burke, Married to James Owen Bruke {BUD}, Escalon is a very small town in the central valley of Calif. The boys Fred and Bud, were very close friends, they lost track of one another, I am trying to help them locate Fred. Fred was in the Navy, he was on the USS Enterprise when it had the explosion in Hawaii. He was injured, and hospitalized, I don’t know for how long. I am hoping, that due to his injuries, maybe there will be a way to trace or find his where abouts. He and Bud are about 64-65 years old Now. Please let me know if you can help me, or point me in a direction, to try and find Fred Lindell, one of our local Homeown Boys.
    Thank you
    Renee-sedivy-Cimpanelli

  3. Rocky Raymer says:

    A few years ago they told that the accident was caused when they had trouble loading the rockets and said there was two steps they were instructed to take to load the rockets. They indicated that one step was stopped as directed and this caused a rocket to fire and hit another plane. They indicated the only way they found out what happened is that they saw the reflection of the rocket firing in the captains window in a motion video.

    What happened to this theory?

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