ORDEAL OF THE USS ENTERPRISE, 14 JANUARY 1969, by Michael
by Admiral J.L. Holloway III, USN (Ret.), CO USS ENTERPRISE
1965-67, CNO 1974-78.
is a remarkable book, virtually unique in its genre. It is
a painstakingly detailed account of a major maritime disaster,
factual and yet grimly gripping. Well it should be, as the
author, Michael J. Carlin, was the Crew Leader of Crew 2 of
the Purple Shirts in the flightdeck gang of the ENTERPRISE.
On that fateful day he was in the thick of the conflagration,
and his image can be seen in one of his book's photographs
as a member of a hose team confronting a shattering explosion
of fuel and ammunition on the ENTERPRISE's flight deck. Carlin
has not identified himself in his book as one of the heroes
of the story, and although he may lose some kudos by his modesty
by writing the book in the third person, he has been able
to attain a level of objectivity that truly transcends the
limitations of a simple eyewitness account. Carlin writes
well. His style is suited to the clear reporting of events,
and he has an easy way of explaining the technical aspects
of aviation equipment and flightdeck operations.
is an important book about a epochal event in the history
of modern nuclear carriers. Aside from showing that no matter
how much training goes into the preparation of a carrier crew
for combat operations (and the ENTERPRISE crew was solidly
trained and well led), disaster can strike from the most unforeseen
causes. But most importantly, the calamity demonstrated the
toughness of the modern nuclear aircraft carrier. In spite
of the fire in which more than a dozen major caliber bombs
exploded on the flight deck, the grim carnage was contained
and the ship was not put out of action.
is an unnerving story, but it tells what can happen when things
go wrong when we are dealing with ammunition and fuel on a
carrier flight deck. In spite of the graphic depictions of
what it's really like in the inferno, the book ends on an
upbeat note by showing that through the personal courage and
sacrifice of dedicated sailors, the damage was limited and
the ship was saved.
book should be required reading for all prospective carrier
CO's, XO's and Flight Deck Officers, and it should be on the
reading list for the appropriate courses in the Naval Air
Training Command and the Fleet Training Groups.
is a book too, for the serious student of naval history, particularly
those who have served aboard warships and operated from aircraft
carriers. Michael J. Carlin has given us a story that is sobering,
inspiring, and fascinating to read.
Admiral, U.S. Navy (Retired)
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