The Forrestal Fire

Today marks the anniversary of one of the most famous fires aboard ship, the conflagaration that struck the USS Forrestal as she prepared to launch strikes against North Vietnam in 1967.

I’ve written of this before here.

One reason the fire is so well known is that it was extensively filmed by cameras used to monitor activities on the flight deck. And that film has been used ever since to train sailors of the dangers of fire, and how best to save their ship.



The National Naval Aviation Museum actually tracked down the squadron duty logbook of an embarked squadron, VA-65 by the officer on duty, Ron Zlatoper.

Zlatoper would go on to a distinguished career, retiring as a four star Admiral. Who knows what the 134 men who died saving their ship might have done?

4 thoughts on “The Forrestal Fire”

  1. When I was in the film about the USS Zippo’s fire was standard fare at Damage Control and Fire Fighting School. The guy that got me into the Naval Reserve, who lived across the street from me while I was in Hi Skool had been one of the first, not assigned to the ship, aboard Forrestal after the fire. He said it was a nightmare.

    Another standard movie was about the fire aboard the Franklin in WW2.

  2. Saw this training video as a nub midshipman during my initial NROTC training class. Fast forward to that summer and I am onboard the USS Enterprise for my summer cruise. First day out at sea we have a major fire that destroys the Marine Detachment’s berthing compartment. I find myself lugging a red double blower back aft after the fire was out to help with the ventilation and hoping I remembered the rest of the DC training I had received!

    Fire at sea – bad juju…

    1. Most ships that are lost are lost to fire.

      We used to call the Forrestal the USS Zippo because they never had a fire drill for training as they had the real thing every day. I pooh poohed that story until Sylvania was tied up across the pier from Forrestal for 2 weeks. 14 days, 14 calls “this is no drill….” Made we wonder how the ship could keep a CO for allowing such conditions to exist.

  3. One thing this landlubber dogface appreciated about “men who go down to the sea” is that in these events you all can’t run, can’t hide…brave souls to know that when clearing harbor(s). I salute you gentlemen.

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