The USS Forrestal left Phildelphia yesterday, under tow on her way to a scrap yard in Beaumont, Texas. The USS Forrestal (CV-59) was the first US “supercarrier” and the first American aircraft carrier to be built with an angled flight deck, steam catapult, and an optical landing system. When she was commissioned in 1955, she was the largest aircraft carrier ever built. While the ship had a long and active career, she will probably be best remembered, however, for a series of deadly fires, starting with one in 1967 which killed 134 sailors and injured 161. In 1972, the ship suffered another major fire in a computer room, just under the flight deck, which had been set by a crew member. In 1978, the crash of an A-7 Corsair II on the flight deck set another fire, killing two deck crewmen and injuring 10 others. Also in 1978, there were fires in the Number Three Main Machinery Room, the catapult steam trunk, and an adjacent store room. On her 20th deployment in 1989, the Forrestal was delayed by a fire in the primary command and control trunk space, which injured 11. Perhaps not surprisingly, the Forrestal was nicknamed “Forest Fire”, “Firestal” and “USS Zippo.”
The Forrestal has been laid up since 1998. Now, the ship nicknamed “Forest Fire” is on her way to the flames of the cutting torches after long and honorable service.