Does anyone else recall this incident? I was on the USS Shreveport in the Med at the time and we took on at least 1 sailor from the Belknap. As I recall my chief and I commented that it was like a small demolition derby at that time with several collisions in small time frame occurring.
"November 22, 1975, Aboard the USS Belknap (DLG-26) and USS John F. Kennedy
(CVA-67), 70 Miles East of Sicily, Italy
During night exercises the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy and the cruiser USS Belknap collided, lodging the Belknap's superstructure beneath the Kennedy's overhanging flight deck. The carrier's fuel lines were ruptured, spreading gasoline over the deck of the Belknap, which ignited and burned for more than two hours.
One of the ships that came to the Belknap's aid was the nuclear-capable frigate USS Bordelon, which collided with the USS John F. Kennedy a year later 75 miles north of Scotland."
Photo of USS BELKNAP:
Many more pix of damage,etc. to the Belknap after the collison and fire located here;
Viewed much better by clicking the "slideshow" button. Contains some pix of another CG for comparison.
I was at Philly when Belknap was towed back in to be rebuilt. She was a horrible sight, with her superstructure nearly completely melted and destroyed down to the main deck level. That's a sight I'll never forget.
My brother was an AG on the Kennedy two years later.
"I've a good mind to join a club and beat you over the head with it."--Groucho Marx
I was on watch at NCS Tech Control Rota Spain, when the accident happened...can't go into details. I will tell you that a very quiet watch went south very quickly! The Belknap was towed into Rota and I went down to see the ship. It was a terrible shock to see the damage.
YN1Mike USN, Retired
Yep, I remember reading about that in the Seattle Papers and the pictures they had were horrible. I was surprised there was not more loss of life. Funny thing, the DLG I was serving in almost had the same thing happen on our 70/71 Med Cruise. (With The Kennedy) Only quick action by the Junior OOD, (My division officer) averted a similar collision.
I was aboard JFK during the collision w/ Belknap. As an AG3 ("weather guesser") in OA Division, my GQ station was on the upper level (O-11) of the "island" structure as "Outside Observer."
Being it was after 10 p.m. (local time, Sicily) I was in the rack, asleep. GQ alarm sounded (and I guess the "collision" alarm, too, although I don't recall hearing it. Nor can I say I felt the collision; my fellow AG's in our berthing space on the O-3 level, aft, just under the Number 3 arresting wire, described the sensation as a "slight shudder."
Arrived at my station and was witness to an inferno. Can't recall if Belknap was still lodged under our angle deck at that time or, due to her forward momentum, had succeeded in "untangling" herself, but my earliest memory is of all the flames as she sat slightly forward and to Port.
At different times over the next several hours, I recall seeing some of the Belknap crewmen jumping into the sea to escape the flames. (Another indelible image in my memory was later the next morning of a Belknap crewman, red as a boiled lobster with most of his hair gone, as they took him on a stretcher below to our medical spaces. Though I prayed often for his recovery, I have no idea his fate.)
Upon returning to homeport Norfolk at the end of the cruise, my folks had saved the newspaper clippings of the collision and I recall reading something along the lines that the fires were "extinguished within a couple hours." However, if I remember correctly, we were still fighting fires well past dawn the following morning.
RIP all those who perished that night.
Iwas on watch at the Tech Control facility in Rota Spain when the accident occured, I will never forget that night. May all of our Shipmates who lost their lives Rest In Peace.
I was on that cruise too. What division were you in? I suppose you also remember the big wave
hitting the ship at the end of the cruise.
Off Topic.... I believe it was the Kitty Hawk that T Boned a Civilian Tanker or something like it. I was on the Knox FF-1052 and the Kitty Hawk came into Subic (+-1978) when we were there and they filled the hole with Cement for the transit to YOKO... At Yoko they already has a new Bow ready for her....
A Gunner Chief I worked with at MOTU-5 in San Diego (1992) was on USS Kinkaid when it was T Boned by a Tanker in Singapore. The Chief was in his bunk one moment and the next in the water doing the back stroke away from the Crushing Points....
I was walking down the pier to my Ship the USS Coontz DDG-40 in Norfolk about 2200 in about 1980. I hear a Ships Horn and see a Coal Tender that had lost Steering headed to the Supply Ship on the other side of the pier from us... I actually saw the impact...and heard the Collision Alarms... A Quick Acting Person went to the Berthing Compartment and saved some lives before the impact....
We lived in a Dangerous Enviroment...
I was a 19 year old ossn on board the Belknap that night. It was the worse night of my life. Nobody ever mentions that it happened on the anniversary of JFK's assassination
I was on the 0-11 level on duty that night, my job was to report any ships that could be seen. It was very foggy that night but I saw the Belknap about 20 seconds before we collided. I reported the ship but way to late to be of any help. The Belknap struck us on the port side towards the front of the ship and then turned from the collision and scraped down our port side until about halfway down our ship when a huge ball of feel flame shot over my head. I hit the deck until the ship was past and the next time I saw the Belknap it was in flames with explosions behind our ship/
It was a night I would rather forget.
I do: ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-1051833]
HiTech that was the Ranger in 1979 that t-boned the tanker. I was aboard her and my guys and I were among the first dozen to man fire hoses and start washing crude off the flight deck. Although the ship's damage control people claim that. We came slowly into Subic and later went to Yokouska for dry dock and a new bow. I still have pictures of me standing under the Ranger in dry dock. We were there almost the whole month of August of 79.
I was on the IKE, CVN-69, when we scrapped the bow of an anchored merchant frieghter in Hampton Roads just less than an hour away from tying up at the pier in 1988. It delayed our arrival by a couple of hours or more. The CO didn't make Admiral I tell you. I know it wasn't a s horiffic as the Belknap tragedy but it still scared me.
I was aboard JFK during the collision w/ Belknap. S-3a squadron VS-21. One of our pilots was on approach at the time of impact. I fought fires below decks in the supply area for several hours. No time to chat, but I'll be back.
It comes to this time each year and my mind goes to being aboard Big John on Nov. 22, 1975. I was 18 years old and just aboard for about 3 weeks in 2nd div. (eventually headed for RM "A" school). I was in repair 3 BRAVO after mess decks and was the investigator sent through all the lower decks 'Solo" to check for flooding and damage. When I returned to 3 BRAVO it had filled with smoke and they handed me and OBA and canister and sealed be below decks until I was lit-off. Since I was ready to go then the Fire Marshall grabbed myself and another 2nd div seaman and sent us to the 03 level port side as investigators.
This time was through an Orlando hatch into a dense black smoke and where the power is lost or secured... it was being drawn through the ventilation system and probably generated from all the port side fires in storage area, sponsons, and the motor-whale boat that scorched in the davits. I fought fires for several hours. We secured from GQ approx. 12 hours later. I'm certain very many evolutions took placed that night and the days following g in Augusta Bay, Spicily. For three days 1st, 2nd and 3rd div. repaired and painted Big John's hull from the flight deck to water level on the port side. That included Thanksgiving Day, in which I gave many Thanks! It was almost surreal at one point. I was on different hose teams and wondering at one point what I was doing here... how did I end up here? Second Division painted from 0600 to 1800 and 1st Division painted from 1800 to 0600. Third Division ran boats for the ship's Bosn' a CMDR to direct the operation, and safety/life guard duty. I will always honor those sailors who I did not know that lost their lives that night and were injured.
I always remember 2 things on NOV 22... the death of President Kennedy, and the night the JFK and Belknap collided. I was a pilot in VF-32 (Tomcat squadron), and had just landed about an hour before the collision. I had debriefed, and gone to my 6-man stateroom, which was located just under the Flight Deck, port side of ship, near the "angle". I opened the door to the stateroom to hear the Evening Prayer at 2200, because the Chaplain was praying about the death of Pres. Kennedy. Just as the Prayer ended, the Collision Alarm (dit-dit-dit) sounded, and then we felt the ship "heave up and to starboard. Then GQ was sounded, and my roommates and I all headed to our Ready Room. When we entered, on the TV which shows the Flight Deck, we saw flames going up from the port side of the ship. The flames were higher than the Bridge on the Island.... pretty frightening to see your ship on fire that much!! We heard that our remaining airplanes, which had been on approach to the ship for landing, were all sent to NAS Sigonella, Sicily. We all went down onto the Hangar Deck, and manned fire hoses... there were a lot of fire hoses snaked out all over the Hangar Bay, going into the compartments on the port side of the ship, trying to put out the fires caused when a 5 inch jet fuel pipe of the port side of the ship had been ruptured. The fires got into storerooms, including the one which had aircraft tires in it... lots of heavy smoke. When looking out of a hangar bay door, we could see Belknap in the distant, adrift, on fire, with incredible explosions occurring - I thought the loss of life was going to be pretty bad. Finally, about dawn, we secured from GQ. Could not go back to our stateroom - it was filled with smoke still. We went up on Flight Deck, and saw Belknap, still adrift nearby, a complete wreck. The Belknap had taken out our Fresnel Lens (landing mirror on port side of ship), along with the capability to rig a Secondary Lens on the port side. So, 2 days later, they rigged up a 3rd lens system, on the Starboard Side(!!), just behind the Island. This was going to be fun !! None of us pilot had EVER landed onboard a carrier using a Starboard Lens !! But it all worked out OK, and we showed the Soviets (who were watching closely) that we were still an operational carrier, conducting flights ops. We went into Naples pretty soon after that, got the port side Fresnel Lens replaced, and completed our deployment.
[QUOTE]Originally posted by GuerrillaCivile:
I was aboard JFK during the collision w/ Belknap. S-3a squadron VS-21. One of our pilots was on approach at the time of impact. I fought fires below decks in the supply area for several hours.
What I remember is that I was in my rack, listening to the evening prayer, the Chaplin asking us to remember President Kennedy, our ship's namesake. They announced "lights-out when suddenly the boat started jumping like it was does when she's going to "full-power". I remember hearing the collision alarm, followed by "GQ. GQ All hands man your fire stations!" "This is not a drill!" Total bedlam in our berthing area, just under the #3 wire.
Our shop (VS-21 Air-frames) was starboard, aft near the ADJ shop. On the way there I could smell burnt JP fuel and thought, "Oh, ****! We already been hit!" (I thought the collision alarm was a real CGQ! Just another stupid Airdale!)
I got down to the shop and no one had a clue what was going on. Then our Shop Chief said that we've been in a collision and asked for people qualified to "ride brakes" to go up & help get aircraft down into the hanger bays. When I got to the flight deck the first thing I saw was a ship ablaze (the Belknap) just off our port-quarter. I was directed to an F-14, told to touch nothing except the brake release, ride the brakes, and get her below.
Once below with the Tomcat secured, I went back to the flight deck looking to help more. My biggest memory of that night is that when I first went to the flight-deck there was just us, The Kennedy, and the Belknap a blaze. By the time I got back to the flight-deck, it looked like downtown L.A.! Ships everywhere! Even the Russians were offering assistance. (ya right!)
Eventually, I was directed to a fire-team, issued an OBA, and sent into the supply area with a black-shoe fireman and a 1.5" line. We hosed our way into a compartment full of aircraft tires mounted on magnesium rims. Dude pulled his mask and asked "Are those tires inflated?!?" "No!" I screamed, but those rims will burn right through the hull!" We spent I don't know how long just hosing down those rim!
Several days later we pulled into Augusta Bay, Sicily where the Belknap was at anchor. The photos speak for themselves........
I was onboard Kennedy during the night in question. I was an HMC assigned to ships company. Immediately after the collision alarm sounded smoke filled sick bay and we evacuated all the patients to the hangar deck. I escorted 2 of our Doctors to the hangar bay to set up a triage area for expected casualties. Within an hour of the collision three of us were heloed to the USS HART to triage casualties and arrange transport back to KENNEDY for further evaluation and treatment. Dr Gill Vasquez, myself and an HM3 who's name escapes me were the individuals sent to the HART. On the morning of the 23rd of November I was sent to Naval Station Sigonella to retrieve blankets, pillows and stokes litters and to return them to the ship. While ashore I was able to contact my wife to inform her that we were all ok and to have her contact our senior medical officers wife to inform her of the situation.The eerie part of this event is that it happened on the 12th anniversary of the death of President Kennedy.I still get goose bumps thinking about this. I will never forget that night. I don't believe that any sailor assigned to the KENNEDY OR ANY OF THE OTHER SHIPS that were with us will ever forget this tragedy.
I am the son of one of the men who died on the Belknap. His name was Douglas S Freeman. I just want to thank you guys for remembering and sharing stories about that night. No one has ever told me who it happened or what went on. I was three month old fetus at the time. This has brought a lot emotion in me. I am just trying to find out who he was and any information about him. This really hit me just hearing about this night.
Thanks Again and if anyone has anymore info please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I was on the USS HOIST ARS-40 that came and towed the Belknap after the collision.
Was there any known disposition for either OOD or CO of the Belknap or Kennedy? I am sure there must have been a Board of Inquiry. I realize that crossing another ship's bows while underway is a max error in judgment.
I was on the belknap that night, an SM e-3 sleeping and jumping out of my bunk as the ship violently shuddered, I thought we ran aground.
We filed up to the next level corridor, and bunched up behind the E-6 who told us we couldn't open the hatch leading to the main deck cuz it was hot. The same thing with the hatch at the opposite end.
So we waited, maybe for a half hr, as the lights quickly went out and smoke started seeping in thru the bulkhead welds, making eery curls thru the emergency lights. We could hear nozzles being dragged across the deck above us. Someone started singing "smoke on the water", and opening the OBA locker revealed just one OBA, with cobwebs. No one took it.
Holding a shirt over your mouth doesn't help much, getting low to the floor does a little.
Finally someone opened the hatch from the other side and asked if we'd "like to get out". There was no freakin' fire on the other side. When I emerged on the main deck I looked back and saw a hellish ball of flame where the superstructure was supposed to be. Crap was falling all around, guys were wandering around burned and wounded like something out of the walking dead.
I don't know if anyone is reading this thread anymore. If so, I can go on with the memory. It's late here in south florida, I,m waiting to get sleepy and saw this thread when googling the belknap. G'night.
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