Remembering the Sailors lost during the USS Forrestal fire 54 years later

A fire July 29, 1967, killed 134 men and injured dozens more
USS Forrestal fire
Posted at 10:43 AM, Jul 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-29 11:00:38-04

NORFOLK, Va. — Thursday marks 54 years since a deadly fire broke out on the former USS Forrestal aircraft carrier, killing more than 100 Sailors.

On July 29, 1967, the Forrestal was off the coast of Vietnam for combat operations in the Gulf of Tonkin.

A rocket misfired, striking a fuel tank on one of the planes and starting a fire on the flight deck, which began igniting bombs.

By the time the fire was under control, 134 men had lost their lives, dozens more were hurt and 21 aircraft were destroyed. The Forrestal itself also suffered major damage.

Thanks to the quick actions of the crew, the ship was saved and continued to serve until decommissioning in 1993.

The impact of the fire continues to this day, with the Navy training all Sailors to be firefighters as a result of the Forrestal experience.

That training includes the Farrier Fire Fighting School at Norfolk International Terminals. The school is named for Gerald Farrier, one of the 134 men who died.

When the fire broke out, he ran towards it, not away, armed only with a portable fire extinguisher. A bomb exploded, killing Farrier.

In February 2014, despite efforts to save the ship, the Forrestal was towed to Texas to be scrapped.