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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 77226
Last updated: 24 September 2021
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Type:Silhouette image of generic A6 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Grumman EA-6B Prowler
Owner/operator:United States Marine Corps (USMC)
Registration: 159910
MSN: P-57
Fatalities:Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 3
Other fatalities:11
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:70 mi off Jacksonville, FL -   United States of America
Phase: Landing
Departure airport:USS Nimitz (CVN-68)
Destination airport:USS Nimitz (CVN-68)
Grumman EA-6B Prowler, BuNo 159910/'610' of VMAQ-2 Detachment Y, crash landed on flight deck of USS Nimitz, off the Florida coast, killing 14 crewmen and injuring 45 others (some reports say 42, some 48). The crash was the result of the aircraft missing the last arresting cable, while ignoring a wave-off command. During work ups off the eastern Florida coast a Marine EA-6B crashed on Nimitz’ flight deck, slamming into three Corsair IIs spotted forward before crashing into a nearby Tomcat, pushing it into two adjacent F-14As. The EA-6B exploded near aircraft loaded with live ordnance, killing the crew and sending a fireball rolling across the flight deck and cooking off 20 mm ammunition, which spewed fragments into Sailors working on the flightdeck.

The fire was fought for an intense 70 minutes before being extinguished. Nimitz returned to Norfolk for repairs, and then returned to sea two days later. The accident injured a further 48 Sailors and Marines. Nimitz' Captain later awarded one distinguished service medal, 11 meritorious service medals and numerous other awards to Sailors for their heroic firefighting efforts. The damage is said to have cost $100 million to repair.

Two Grumman F-14 Tomcats struck and destroyed (BuNos. 161138 and 160385), 3 F-14s, 9 LTV A-7 Corsair IIs, 3 S-3A Vikings, 1 Grumman A-6 Intruder and 1 SH-3 Sea King damaged. Forensic testing conducted found that several members of the deceased flight deck crew tested positive for marijuana (the officers on board the aircraft were never tested, claimed one report). The responsibility for the accident was placed on the deck crew. The official naval inquiry stated that the accident was the result of drug abuse by the enlisted crewmen of the Nimitz, despite the fact that every death occurred during the impact of the crash, none of the enlisted deck crew were involved with the operation of the aircraft, and not one member of the deck crew was killed fighting the fire.

As a result of this incident, President Ronald Reagan instituted a "Zero Tolerance" policy across all of the armed services—which started the mandatory drug testing of all US service personnel. In another report, however, the Navy stated that pilot error, possibly caused by an excessive dosage of brompheniramine, a cold medicine, in the blood of pilot Marine 1st Lt. Steve E. White, of Houston, Texas, "may have degraded the mental and physical skills required for night landings." The report described brompheniramine as "a common antihistamine decongestant cold medicine ingredient. Last October [1981], Rep. Joseph P. Addabbo, (D-N.Y.) said that an autopsy conducted on the pilot's body disclosed up to 11 times the recommended dosage of a cold remedy in his system."This report seems to bely the above account that no testing was done on the flight crew.




Photo of 159910 courtesy

Tucson - Davis-Monthan AFB (KDMA / DMA)
24 March 1979; (c) Bob Thomas

Revision history:

30-Nov--0001 00:00 ASN Archive
18-Mar-2016 23:44 Dr.John Smith Updated [Cn, Operator, Location, Country, Phase, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
21-Mar-2016 23:51 Dr.John Smith Updated [Location, Source, Narrative]
26-Mar-2016 05:04 Dr.John Smith Updated [Narrative]
31-Mar-2016 17:45 Dr.John Smith Updated [Time, Location, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
31-Mar-2016 17:53 Dr.John Smith Updated [Location, Source, Narrative]
01-Apr-2016 20:36 Dr.John Smith Updated [Embed code]
27-Feb-2017 21:16 TB Updated [Time, Operator, Location, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Embed code, Narrative]

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