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On April 19, 1989, northeast of the island of Puerto Rico, 500 pounds of high explosive propellant charge exploded in the open-breech of the center 16″ gun in USS Iowa's turret 11. The resulting blast overpressures, secondary explosions and fires killed 47 crewmen within the turret stmcture. The robustness of the turret assembly, which extended from the main deck to the keel, fortunately withstood the blast and prevented more widespread damage throughout the ship. The explosion was a major embarrassinent for the Navy. Its battleships had been reactivated for service in the Middle East, the third time since their launching late in WWII. They were widely touted as invulnerable to enemy attack. Much to the Navy's chagiin it appeared that self-destruction might be a more realistic alternative.
P.E.; Fellow, Engineering Sciences Section AAFS, Albuquerque, NM
Stock #: JFS14723J