1964 - Wrong flight Deck
Subject: Wrong flight Deck 1964
From: Steven Jacobson
Date: 7/15/98 7:37 AM
Try this one....In Nov 1964 the Benington on a training cruise using a Flying drone for gun practice lost control of it and it crashed into the bridge..I was in transite at San Diego awaiting my orders to board when I was shipped quickly to the boat because it cut its training cruise short. Upon arriving and checking in...I was able to look from the flight deck at the damage that drone went right though the Capt's chair space....bet he never ran so fast in his life. anyone ever hear HARD RIGHT!
Do I remember this! Let me tell you the REAL story on that one! We had "Guests of the Secretary of the Navy" on board, and were showing them all the fun things, launches and landings, etc, we had just recovered some S 2's and, for some reason my gas crew was called forward of the island to drain some Av Gas out of one of the planes. We had finished and were walking back towards the island, when a destroyer came alongside for a show and tell. Among other things they launched a remote controlled DASH. (Drone anti submarine helicopter) and some JG was on the tin can, with a remote control in his hand, and he was flying the drone up and down the flight deck, showing off. To this day, I remember so well, standing by Gas Control, holding a swab in one hand a 5 gallon can of gasoline in the other, saying to myself, wow.....that guy has balls....flying so close to the mast. Whoops....that is going to hit the mast!!! just as I said that, didn't the damn thing hit it, and the rotor blade snapped off, fell on the flight deck and the dummy torpedo on board, fell THROUGH the bridge!! some of the gasoline in the dash ignited and started a fire, they sounded General Quarters, fire on the bridge!! I was standing there, right in front of the island, with a 5 gallon can of gasoline in my hand, watching everyone run back and forth with fire hoses, Honest....I remember saying to myself...this is just like in the movies!!! Finally my crew chief came over, grabbed the can of gasoline out of my hand and threw it over board and said (in so many words.....) gee Bill, why don't you grab a fire hose and help.
To this day, I can see it plain as day.
This is the second person I have heard talk about that infamous day when We were the first Carrier to be torpedoed in the bridge!!! I was on my way down to my bunk to change for coming into port when I too spied that helo changing course and heading right for the Mast. I too said that looks like it's going to crash and then it did. I ran across the deck and yelled for the men in the area to grab the fire hose and we started to layon the foam. I then remember someone from the bridge yelling for us to quit and we did. I always thought we should of gotten a medal for saving the ship, RIGHT!!!
Richard E. Brown
DASH that Torpedoed the Bennington
Mon, 28 Aug 2000 11:48:20 -0700
I was the Air Gunner in the Bennington from August 1964 to August 1966 and have a vivid recollection of the DASH ( Drone Anti-Submarine Helicopter) that collided with our mast. However, I remember it just a little differently then Bill Copeland does. That doesn't make him wrong, maybe I am. As I remember it, we had just finished a training period out of Long Beach and were heading in for the weekend. The squadrons had departed and the flight deck was clear except for a dud or two. The Captain announced over the 1MC that a DASH (it was designed to carry anti-submarine weapons, electrical torpedoes or nukes), was going to do a fly-by and would be coming from astern and passing between us and the destroyer which had control of it. The destroyer was off our starboard bow a few hundred yards. I, along with many of my crew, went to the flight deck and we were standing just aft of the island. When the dash came into view it was just a speck astern of us and as it got closer there were probably a couple hundred men on the flight deck and Navy League members, guests of the Secretary of the Navy, were on the starboard wing of the bridge. As the DASH attempted to pass between the two ships, control was lost, and it crashed into our mast. Pieces of rotor blades littered the flight deck and as we jumped for cover the man next to me was splattered with fuel. A large piece took out the rail on the quarterdeck and luckily most pieces fell harmlessly into the sea. However, a dummy MK 44 Torpedo ( a piece of wood about the diameter of a telephone pole and about seven feet long did come crashing through the overhead of the bridge and came to rest on the navigators chart table. It did set the bridge on fire, I had always believed it was from fuel from the DASH but I'm not sure. The guests on the bridge made a hasty exit and except for one who banged his arm on something were not injured. In fact, as far as I know the only injury was to a man who was working on the mast and he hurt his knee jumping out of the way of falling debris. It is a moot point, and Bill may have had a better view of it then I did, but I was always under the impression that the bridge fire was put out by damage control personnel who were testing fire hoses on the flight deck. There was very little publicity in the news, just about one inch in the Long Beach paper. I do believe that the crash was the final nail in the coffin of the DASH experiment, one that was already on shaky ground.
FROM THE BRIDGE:
It all rings pretty true, except that the fire was put out by the bridge crew with CO 2 bottles.
About all the hoses did was to wash down the outside of the bridge structure.
The fire damage was very limited.