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Trial by Fire: The Disaster on USS Forrestal at 50  

On July 29, 1967, a Zuni rocket aboard USS Forrestal (CV-59) fired unexpectedly and ignited a series of explosions that sparked a fire that burned for the better part of a day. The fire killed 134 sailors and injured 161. The following is a 1973 U.S. Navy documentary Trial by Fire that recounts the actions of the crew that saved the ship 50 years ago.

  • SpaceHoosier

    I remember watching this exact documentary in boot at NRC Great Lakes on what NOT to do when fighting a fire.

  • Ed L

    I went through Great Lakes in Fall of 72. I don’t remember seeing this film. but remember seeing the film in March of 74 as a requirement after reporting aboard the USS Inchon LPH-12. And during the 21 years that I served I pretty sure I saw it at least a dozen times

  • PappyStu

    I never forgot the image of that Chief running across the deck toward the burning aircraft one second and gone the next… His sacrifice was iconic of the concept of true heroism between shipmates…

  • DaSaint

    I’ve seen this at least twice before, but it’s just as powerful as the first time I viewed it. So many lessons were learned. Fortunately our sailors have responded quite well in similarly tragic situations over the past few decades.

  • Don Madden

    i remember watching it on black and white t.v. when it happened.

  • William Blankinship

    Never forget. Train and then train some more.

  • xxnavyguy445

    They showed this to us in Boot Camp in 1977 at Orlando RTC. Spent the entire class discussing the high points of the bravery of many of the fire fighters and the mistakes made by some of the under-trained but brave crew. The image of that Chief running across the deck with that extinguisher then disappearing in a flash was seared into my memory. Let’s not forget the sacrifices made by the brave fire fighters.

  • scottled

    I joined in 1983, and on my first carrier (there were four, eventually, over 28 years – Ike, America, Kennedy and Nimitz) as a boot Ensign, I served with a First Class who had been an Airman on the flight deck of Forrestal during the fire. Some of his stories…. Throughout my sea duty on all 4 ships, whenever the 1MC rang the rapid bells, with “Fire, Fire, Fire…”, I would automatically go back to the movie seen here, and to his words. Thankfully I never had to experience a conflagration like Forrestal, and the only thing I can say is Training, Training, Training – you never know when it may be your turn. Another lesson from this event; how many of those men who went over the side might have not been recovered if they were wearing the stupid Blueberries, which only camouflage you when in Blue Water? Glad to see the end of that experiment. Fair winds to lost shipmates.

  • juandeveras

    This fire wsa caused by John McCain