2 Replies Latest reply on Dec 9, 2021 8:42 AM by Elliot Schneider

    What fire aboard USS Okinawa LPH-3 in Jan 1976?

    Mark Smith Newbie

      What fire aboard USS Okinawa LPH-3 in Jan 1976? We were in Long Beach, CA in dry docks thru May '76. Firecracker HT2 "maddog" Smith. Want real facts? The Fire in Aug/Sept 1976, in port San Diego is the same fire mentioned in several posts taking place in Jan '76 while the Oki was in Dry Docks from Oct '75 thru May '76. I came in from liberty approx 2230. I saw a haze in the passageway on the second deck in front of Supply berthing/ shower area which turned out to be smoke. I reported the fire to the Quarter Deck, cleared the area of supply personnel and set the fire boundries. By the time the duty fire party arrived the fire - 400 new mattresses for the Marine Berthing, in cardboard boxes locked in an expanded metal locker flashed & became fully engulfed.



      I, HT2 Smith assumed the scene leader from an HTFN. We fought the fire until it got out of control. My request for assistance from the Base fire Dept or Surrounding Ships was denied. I was told to will handle it. Ht's coming back from liberty were held at the head of the pier. Around midnight thirty the base fire dept showed up to assist. They cleared all Navy Personnel except me out of the fire area. As we moved toward the fire the Ship's Captain made repeated calls for me to come to the hanger deck. I left the scene & reported to the Captain. After relaying what was going on with the fire, I heard of a sailor trapped below deck in a smoked filled compartment. Myself & an ICman found the man and brought him up 30' of ladder to the hanger deck. He was a BT1 wearing a Mark 5 gas mask which was not meant for smoke filled conditions. I was told he died twice on the way to the hospital. He was revived and made the cruise in Sept '76. There were no bodies stacked like cord wood & No assistance was rendered from other ships. The ship's crew dewatered & desmoked the ship and over hauled the fire. There are 5ea 3" black binders concerning this fire with pictures & NIS reports. I worked in the DCA office and have reviewed some of the material.


      As for the multiple fires during the '76 - '77 cruise - they actually happened. Fellow Firecrackers - do you remember the "T" shirts we had made in the PI? "You light 'em We fight 'em because of the many fires. We never found the guilty party. No one died, no one was burned & no one suffered smoke inhalation. The Firecracker Team was called away for the first reported fire & the ship went to GQ on the second one. I was working DC Central communications for the Firecracker Team. There was a fire in the bilges in the fireroom but was put out with no deaths, burns or smoke inhalation.

        • Re: What fire aboard USS Okinawa LPH-3 in Jan 1976?
          Jason Atkinson Guide

          Dear Mr. Smith,


          Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!


          We searched the National Archives Catalog and located the Logbooks of U.S. Navy Ships and Stations, 1941 - 1983 in the Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel (Record Group 24) that include the deck logs of the USS Okinawa (LPH-3) for 1976 and 1977. These logs are not available online. For more information about these non-digitized records, please contact the National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference (RDT2) via email at archives2reference@nara.gov.


          Due to the continued impact of COVID-19, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgment as well as a substantive response to your reference request from RDT2.  We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience as we balance mission-critical work and the safety of our staff during the pandemic. Please check NARA’s web page about COVID-19 updates for the latest information.


          The Naval Safety Center (NSC) is the custodian and designated release authority for all Safety Investigation Reports (SIRs) involving the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps that were conducted pursuant to OPNAVINST 3750.6S and OPNAVINST 5102.1D. FOIA requests to the Naval Safety Center may be submitted in writing, by facsimile, e-mail, or electronic form. Please clearly mark the mailing envelope, facsimile, or e-mail “Freedom of Information Act Request”. Please include the type of incident (plane crash, collision at sea, etc.); date or time frame of the incident; geographic location of the mishap (specifically as possible, if known); and any additional information (bureau number, name of command, type of aircraft, etc.)


          We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your research!


          • Re: What fire aboard USS Okinawa LPH-3 in Jan 1976?
            Elliot Schneider Ranger



            Here is some additional information.


            Navy deck logs of the USS Okinawa (LPH-3)


            7 January 1976

            22:20 Fire occurred in compartment 3-107-A and the Fire Party was called

            22:27 Assistance from the USS Samuel Gompers (AD-37)

            22:30 Assistance from the San Diego Base Fire Department


            8 January 1976

            00:00 Fire continued. All hands except Fire Party evacuated to USS Samuel Gompers (AD-37)

            03:01 Fire was out and overhaul commenced

            04:20 Fire boundary watches set. Continued de-smoking

            07:40 One sailor sent to hospital for smoke inhalation



            Additionally, Navy deck logs of the USS Okinawa (LPH-3) to include June 1976 through September 1976 and June 1977 through September 1977. We located a log for September 26, 1976 that indicated that a fire in the Paint Locker was discovered at 22:24 and resolved by 23:28; a log for August 11, 1977 that indicated that a fire in the Fire Room Compartment was discovered at 16:49 and resolved by 17:00; and a log for July 18, 1976 that indicated that the crew assisted the USS Blue Ridge with a fire from 20:00 to 21:50. Other than these incidents, the logs indicate various fire drills and casualty drills that took place from June 1976 to September 1977.


            If you wish to have a copy of the deck log, please contact the National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference via email at archives2reference@nara.gov.

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