NFPA Journal looks back at the fire on the USS Forrestal

Blog Post created by ryan.quinn Employee on Feb 7, 2014

93A0E5C1CA924A8BB81DFF18F9D8AB32.ashx"This is not a drill.”

It was, in fact, a fire that had broken out on July 29, 1967, on the flight deck of the USS Forrestal, a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier in the Gulf of Tonkin, about 60 miles (96 kilometers) off the coast of North Vietnam.

The fire started when an armed rocket accidentally launched from a F-4 Phantom fighter, hitting another jet waiting to take off. Fuel began leaking from the damaged plane’s fuel tank, which erupted in flames at 10:52 a.m. 

Although the fire on the flight deck was extinguished by 12:15 p.m., fires continued to burn throughout the ship until the following day. By then, 134 of the Forrestal’s 5,000 crew members had died, and 161 were injured, 64 of them severely.

For more on the worst fire on a U.S. aircraft carrier since the Second World War, read "Disaster in the Gulf of Tonkin" in the January/February issue of NFPA Journal.