In five decades as one of the most powerful warships on the sea, the USS Enterprise's moment of greatest peril came one morning in 1969 during a final battle drill before heading to Vietnam.
Michael Carlin was a 21-year-old sailor getting a deck full of F-4 Phantom fighters ready to launch.
"On each F-4 Phantom, there were eight five-inch rockets and six 500-pound bombs," says Carlin, the author of TRIAL: Ordeal of the USS Enterprise 14 January, 1969.
The exhaust from a service vehicle overheated the fuse on one of those rockets, touching off what one sailor called "the vortex of hell" -- and all of it was recorded in silent horror by a deck camera.
"We had eight rockets go off in the first 20 seconds," Carlin says.
Shrapnel from the rockets tore across the deck, mowing down sailors and puncturing the fuel tanks of the F-4s, each one of them loaded with nine tons of jet fuel. Then it got worse.
"Now the bombs started going off, and that was a totally different ballgame there," says Carlin. read more>>>