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Fri Apr 19, 2019, 08:44 AM

First came the explosion. Then, the cover-up.

I don't know how reliable Task & Purpose is, but at least they have the story. I refuse to watch the TV show NCIS, because the policy of the NCIS's predecessor, the Naval Investigative Service (NIS), whenever anything went wrong, was to find the queer and blame him.

First came the explosion. Then, the cover-up.
"I held one [sailor] in my hands as he passed. He died in my arms."
Jeff Schogol April 19, 2019 at 09:02 AM

It's been 30 years since an explosion inside the number two gun turret on the USS Iowa killed 47 American sailors, but for Mike Carr, it still feels like yesterday. ... "I knew all 47 guys inside that turret because as part of the ship's policy we had rotated between all three turrets," Carr, who served as a gunner's mate in the Iowa's aft 16-inch turret, told Task & Purpose. "We all knew each other rather intimately."

On April 19, 1989, the day of the blast, the ship was preparing for live-fire training at Vieques, Puerto Rico Naval Training Range. ... Carr was wearing headphones that allowed him to hear what the crews in the other turrets were saying. ... "At 10 minutes to 10 a.m., somebody came over the phones and said, 'We're having a problem, Turret 2, center gun,'" Carr recalled. "Then approximately two minutes later, I recognized Senior Chief [Reginald] Ziegler, who was the chief in charge of Turret 2, yell into the phones: 'Fire, fire, fire! Fire in center gun, turret 2. Trying to contain it.'"

Then came the blast, which was so strong that it ripped the headphones right off Carr's head. ... The entire ship shook. .... The deadly blast aboard the Iowa marked the first explosion in a battleship turret since 1943, when 43 sailors aboard the USS Mississippi were killed, the Government Accountability Office later determined. But unlike other explosions, the 16-inch gun in the No. 2 Turret was cold, meaning it hadn't been fired yet.

The blame game

It wasn't long after the Iowa returned home that the Navy seemed to be looking for someone to blame the disaster on. Those people turned out to be Gunner's Mate 2nd Class Clayton Hartwig, whom the Navy had initially claimed had loaded the gun before it exploded, and his best friend, Gunner's Mate 3rd Class Kendall Truitt. .... But when investigators learned that Hartwig had named Truitt the beneficiary of a $100,000 life insurance policy, they claimed that Hartwig who died in the blast had planted a bomb in the gun. They further claimed Hartwig became suicidal because he and Truitt who was married at the time had been lovers but Truitt had rebuffed him.

Another sailor, David Smith, claimed that Navy investigators had coerced him into telling them Hartwig propositioned him and discussed how to use a bomb's timer, the Washington Post reported in September 1989. .... More than two years after the deadly explosion, then-Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Frank Kelso reluctantly apologized to Hartwig's family in October 1991. He offered no apology to Truitt or Smith.

USS Iowa turret explosion

Debris and smoke fly through the air as USS Iowa's Turret Two's center gun explodes

Date: 19 April 1989
Time: 09:53 local time
Location: Caribbean Sea, off Puerto Rico
Cause: Undetermined (U.S. Navy inquiry), Overramming of powder bags (Sandia Labs inquiry)
Deaths: 47
Inquiries: U.S. Navy, GAO, and Sandia National Laboratories

On 19 April 1989, the Number Two 16-inch gun turret of the United States Navy battleship USS Iowa (BB-61) exploded. The explosion in the center gun room killed 47 of the turret's crewmen and severely damaged the gun turret itself. Two major investigations were undertaken into the cause of the explosion, one by the U.S. Navy and then one by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and Sandia National Laboratories. The investigations produced conflicting conclusions.

The description is absolutely wrong, but here's the video anyway:

It took a few years, but the stench finally got too strong to ignore:

By John Lancaster
October 18, 1991

The Navy announced yesterday it had wrongly accused sailor Clayton M. Hartwig of deliberately causing the 1989 explosion that killed Hartwig and 46 other sailors aboard the battleship Iowa and formally apologized to Hartwig's family. ... Adm. Frank B. Kelso II, the chief of naval operations, largely repudiated the conclusions of a formal Navy investigation that blamed the devastating shipboard explosion on an act of sabotage "most probably committed" by Gunner's Mate 2nd Class Hartwig.

Kelso said that after reopening the investigation and reviewing evidence connected with the blast inside the Iowa's No. 2 gun turret, the Navy has concluded that there is no "clear and convincing evidence" to support its earlier claim against the 24-year-old sailor. ... Kelso, asserting that the cause of the accident may never be known, expressed regret for the Navy's initial investigation and said he was "apologizing for the burden it has caused the family to bear."

The unusual public apology represented the Navy's attempt to close the books on the April 19, 1989, explosion and subsequent investigation, which was sharply criticized on Capitol Hill and by Hartwig's family as an attempt to use the dead seaman as a scapegoat for the accident. The Navy reopened its investigation following a review by independent scientists who said the explosion could have been caused by accident.

Kelso's apology was formally expressed in a letter delivered yesterday by a Navy admiral to Hartwig's parents at their home in Cleveland. The news was especially gratifying to Hartwig's sister, Kathleen Kubicina, who led the public campaign to clear her brother's name. She said in a telephone interview from Cleveland yesterday that she and her husband had spent $15,000 on the cause. ... "I feel a whole lot better now that my brother can finally rest in peace," said Kubicina, who described herself as a full-time "USS Iowa investigator" and housewife.

"Originally, I was just going on instinct," Kubicina said of her frequent news conferences, trips to Capitol Hill and telephone bills that reached $600 a month. "This was my brother and I knew him better than the people who tried to accuse him." ... Kubicina said that after reviewing the Navy's 7,000-page investigation into the Iowa explosion, she concluded that "their evidence was so circumstantial, it was a joke." Each member of the Hartwig family is seeking $10 million in damages from the Navy as compensation for "emotional distress" inflicted by the episode.

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Reply First came the explosion. Then, the cover-up. (Original post)
mahatmakanejeeves Apr 2019 OP
irisblue Apr 2019 #1

Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Fri Apr 19, 2019, 09:57 AM

1. I did not know this. Thank you for posting it

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