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US Navy Greatest Disasters Since 1945

Date Location Name Details
08.25.50 San Francisco Bay USS Benevolence  (AH-13) On 25 August 1950 US Navy hospital ship headed out to sea for trial runs off the California coast. At 5:04 pm, about four miles west of the Golden Gate Bridge, a cargo freighter, the S.S. Mary Luckenbach collided with the USS Benevolence ripping a 40-foot jagged hole into her starboard bow. Within 15 minutes, the 11,000-ton hospital ship sank in 75-feet of water in the Pacific Ocean. No person on the Luckenbach was injured, although the bow was complete crushed.  At some point, she began picking up survivors from the Benevolence, but thick fog hampered rescue efforts.  Dozens of small Army, Navy, Coast Guard and civilian vessels rushed to the site frantically searching for survivors in the dark. After twenty hours of searching, the last of the Benevolence crew was brought ashore. In the end, 23 people lost their lives as a result of this disaster.
S.S. Mary Luckenbach
04.26.52 700 miles west of the Azores USS Wasp (CV-18) On 26 April 1952, Wasp collided with destroyer minesweeper Hobson (DD-464) while conducting night flying operations en route to Gibraltar. Hobson lost 176 of the crew, including her skipper. Rapid rescue operations saved 52 men. Wasp sustained no personnel casualties, but her bow was torn by a 75-foot saw-tooth rip.
USS Hobson (DD-464)
10.16.53 Boston Naval Shipyard USS Leyte (CVS 32) Thirty-seven men killed by an explosion and fire aboard USS Leyte (CVS 32) at the Boston Naval Shipyard. The ship was under conversion to a CVS. The explosion occurred in the port catapult machinery room. Within minutes, shipyard and city fire trucks were on the scene but the fire took four hours to be extinguished. There were also 28 injured.
03.26.54 Narragansett Bay USS Bennington (CVA-20) At 0611, while USS Bennington (CVA 20) was cruising off Narragansett Bay, the fluid in one of her catapults exploded, setting off a series of secondary explosions which killed 103 crewmen and injured 201 others. Bennington proceeded under her own power to Quonset Point, R.I., to land her planes. Moving to the New York Naval Shipyard for repairs, she was completely rebuilt during 12 Jun. 1954-19 Mar. 1955.
12.22.60 New York Naval Shipyard USS Constellation (CVA-64) Fire broke out on the hangar deck of Constellation (CVA 64) in the last stages of construction at the New York Naval Shipyard. Fifty civilian workers died in the blaze.
10.26.66 South China Sea USS Oriskany (CVA 34) Fire broke out on the hangar of USS Oriskany (CVA 34) as the ship operated in the South China Sea off Vietnam. The fire was caused by a parachute flare igniting. 44 officers and men were lost, but the crew prevented even greater damage and loss of life.
07.29.67   USS Forrestal (CV 59) Fire broke out on the flight deck of USS Forrestal (CV 59) as aircraft were being readied for launch over Vietnam. Flames engulfed the fantail and spread below decks touching off bombs and ammunition. The fires burned for eight hours until heroic efforts of crew members brought them under control. Damage to aircraft and the ship was severe. The final casualty count was 132 dead, two missing and presumed dead, and 62 injured. Also, twenty-one aircraft were destroyed and forty-three others damaged.  The cost to repair the carrier was reckoned at $72 million.
01.14.69   USS Enterprise (CVAN 65) A fire aboard USS Enterprise (CVAN 65) resulting from the detonation of a MK-32 Zuni rocket warhead overheated by exhaust from an aircraft starting unit, took 27 lives, injured 34, and destroyed 15 aircraft.
06.03.69   USS Frank D. Evans (DD 754) Cut in half in collision with HMAS Melbourne off Luzon June 3 1969. 74 sailors aboard Frank D. Evans died as a result of the accident.
HMAS Melbourne R-21
11.22.75 Ionian Sea USS Belknap (CV-26) USS Belknap collided  while acting as plane guard for USS JFK  on night carrier operations in the Mediterrenian. 8 crewmen lost their lives. The fire aboard the Kennedy also killed one.
USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67)
05.26.81   USS Nimitz (CVN-68) An EA-6B aircraft attempting to land at night struck a helicopter, then hit another aircraft and tow tractor before coming to rest. A fuel fire erupted. Improved flight deck fire fighting systems quickly contained the fire, and once the fire was believed to be out, the order was given to start the clean-up. As sailors approached the scene, a SPARROW missile warhead that was buried in the debris detonated. The explosion restarted the fire and three more warheads detonated before the fire could be extinguished. Fourteen sailors were killed and 39 injured. Three planes were destroyed and nine were damaged.
04.19.89   USS Iowa (BB-61) Turret Two explosion during training off the coast of Puerto Rico claimed 47 lives.

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