Military Review

How Americans landed an aircraft carrier

American atomic multipurpose aircraft carriers (AVMAs), which have a full displacement of 100 thousand tons, although they dominate the expanses of the World Ocean, possessing combat potential that makes it possible to destroy enemy fleets and even entire states, but are no less vulnerable to the forces of nature than ordinary barges In April, 1983, returning from regular combat service, the world's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the US Enterprise (USS Enterprise, CVN-65), demonstrated the validity of this statement in a very visual way. The ship sat on a sandy jar just half a mile from the shore, where he sat in plain sight of numerous people meeting more than five hours, until the tide came to his aid.

“The incident from the point of view of undermining reputation has become one of the worst in stories fleet, - writes a user of one of the American naval forums named Harry Murphy. - Indeed, the most majestic and largest warship of the US Navy, which was the flagship of the Navy and that diamond in the crown of the fleet, to which no other country in the world could oppose anything, became its participant. Numerous correspondents and television people, as well as thousands of relatives and viewers who gathered to see how this ship will be majestic, royal, make a call to the harbor of Alameda (also sometimes Alamida - V.S.), watched him suddenly stop, deeply bogged down in a silty sand bank. And so, what no country in the world could do with this ship, Mother Nature easily did. The fleet experienced the greatest disgrace, and the naval authorities literally wanted to hide their heads in the sand of this very can from shame. It was all the same as if they had lowered their trousers in plain sight. That's how shameful that incident was. ”

At the same time, grounding almost led to the failure of the nuclear power plant (NPP) of the aircraft carrier. According to eyewitnesses, the situation in the reactor compartment was close to critical: as ooze slurry mixed with sand began to flow through the water intake device located in the lower part of the ship's hull, the reactor cooling system of the forward group of the ship had to be urgently started. to jam these reactors in order to avoid even more severe consequences (almost the same situation occurred on the Enterprise in Pearl Harbor's 1969).


The official report on the actions of AVMA Enterprise for 1983 year events that occurred on that day, are described very sparingly. “During the passage through the final section of the inner canal, approximately 3 miles from the pier, the Enterprise ran aground and was in that position for about five hours until the tide began and the tugboats helped free the ship so that it could complete its combat service, on which he went 1 September 1982 of the year. " At the same time, we note that in other sources, including the memoirs of the crew members who were aboard the aircraft carrier at that moment, it is noted that the ill-fated sand bank was only about half a mile from the pier. Moreover, judging by reports in the American naval literature and the local press, this sand bank was known to sailors and served as a “landing place” for not just one ship and vessel. Just "Enterprise" was the most famous of them.

However, the stinginess of the official report was more than compensated for by the fact that on that day a group of local journalists were on board the aircraft carrier, who either themselves or through their pen colleagues did not fail to convey to the readers the details of this “unique” event. As a result, the very next day, on Friday 29 of April, in the Contra Costa Times newspaper of the Contra-Costa region of California, located in the San Francisco area, two articles appear on the front page: “Mud ahoy!”, Which can be translated roughly as "Dirt (or silt) on the deck!", And "Enterprise runs aground," that is, "Enterprise" ran aground. "

In the first, its author Rick Radin described the events that took place aboard the multi-purpose aircraft carrier Enterprise, according to photographer Dan Rosenstrauh, who, together with nine other local media journalists, was taken aboard the aircraft carrier by helicopter at a time when the ship was heading to the Golden Gate Bridge. “Unfortunately, the events that followed then made their adjustments, turning the exciting mission of Rosenstrauch and other reporters and photographers on board into a real test of strength,” the author pointed out.

“When it became rubbish, they absolutely did not know what to do with us,” Rozenshtrauch himself noted. - When we just arrived on the ship, they just shone with happiness. However, when the ship stopped, it became clear that only they lacked us here. They locked us in the cargo hold somewhere under the deck, behind the big doors, where there was nothing to sit on. And we were forbidden to move around the ship ... We asked “What is happening?”, But the team was not set up to answer questions. ”

Indoors, the journalists stood for four hours - from 9.30 to 13.30, and then they were invited into a mess-room and fed. But then they were again taken back to the “chamber”, where they stood for another two hours - from 14.30 to 16.30. In the end, after the aircraft carrier was finally flooded, the photographers were allowed to take photographs again, but now they have a separate attendant assigned to each of them.

In the second article, the situation was described by the eyes of individual members of the Enterprise team and those gathered on the pier, as well as the “star passenger” of the aircraft carrier - actor George Takei, who arrived on the ship shortly before the incident (Takei played the role of Hikaru Sulu in Star Trek) - one of the officers of the crew of the spacecraft "Enterprise"). The article also contained comments by representatives of the American fleet.

“On Thursday, just a mile from home, after eight months at sea, the nuclear aircraft carrier Enterprise sat in a bay of San Francisco on a sandy beach, and it was only the beginning of the tide and the tugs that helped him to free himself,” we read in the article. “After more than five hours spent in embraces of sand and silt, on 3.12, the ship was released in the afternoon and was moored at the pier in about an hour - to the joy of numerous people, some of whom had been here since four o'clock in the morning.”

“As a result of the incident and the resulting mess, hundreds of scheduled dates simply did not take place. The mascara flowed under the drizzling rain and fluttering outfits — this is the picture that accompanied the waiting of the delayed ship on the quay for almost a thousand people, among whom were many sailors' wives. By the time the ship moored to the pier, the rain had run out, but the crowd had already grown to at least 3 thousand people, ”journalists wrote sarcastically.

“From the ship we were told that he would stop at the nearest bar, and that’s what happened,” the words of Andy Long from Riverside, who came to meet his son, a sailor with an 16-year experience, were quoted in the article. In this case, the wordplay has become pertinent, since the word “bar” in English means not only “bar”, that is, an institution of a corresponding purpose, but also “bank” as a navigational hazard.

The Time magazine was also noted in this plan, in which 9 of May published an article entitled “Off Course” (“Off Course”), in which, in particular, it was stated, not without humor:

“Eleven tugboats, as if trying to move a small fish from a whale's seat, pushed an aircraft carrier or tried to move it using towing cables, but the Enterprise did not even move. In an attempt to do at least something, the team was ordered to assemble on the port side - as if it were necessary to straighten the tilting boat. The total mass of the crew members, together with the mass of pumped water in ballast tanks, was supposed, as the sailors had hoped, to straighten the ship and help pull it off. However, the ship hull, which usually required at least 36 feet of depth (about 11 meters. - approx. V. Sch.) For safe navigation, still remained in place ...

For more than five hours a huge aircraft carrier sat shamefully in the calm waters of the bay, stuck in its mud. 3500 seafarers could only look powerless through the now irresistible distance to almost 3 thousands of their friends and relatives, who were disappointedly waiting for them at the pier of the Alameda naval airbase, the aircraft carrier’s native port. In the meantime, the rain that started to drizzle brought to naught all the wonderful hairstyles of women who stood on the beach waiting for a date. ”

YOU firmly stranded, captain!

Of particular note is the fact that during the landing of the giant “floating airfield” the ship was controlled by the commander himself, Captain Robert J. Kelly. Which he confirmed during a press conference gathered right after the ship moored at the pier. Arriving on the ship, as it should be, the local civilian pilot was nearby as an adviser.

“He commanded one of the largest warships that had ever set sail for eight months and passed during that time without incident 46 500 miles. Suddenly, Captain Robert J. Kelly, who led the aircraft carrier Enterprise and located in San Francisco Bay just 1700 yards from the last point of his route, felt how he was "heavily sucked under the spoon." His nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, which had a length of 1123 feet and a displacement of 75 700 t, went beyond the boundaries of the fairway 42 feet in depth and stood at a depth of just 29 feet - the article "Deviated from the course" mentioned above. - It is noteworthy that Captain Kelly, who commanded the 3,5 ship of the year, literally recently learned that its production to Commodores was approved. When the civilian pilot, when entering the harbor, began to advise Kelly on maneuvering, he replied: "I am fully responsible for everything that happens." So, the investigation begun by the Navy should determine whether, along with the pride of the honored ship, the Kelly’s new wide armband bogged down in the mud. ”

So the words of one of the heroes of the cartoon “Treasure Island” are recalled: “You are stranded hard, captain!” However, the “wide armband” of the commander of the aircraft carrier who became famous for the sad way was stuck in the sand for a short while.


The staff of the "Enterprise" for obvious reasons did not apply to this event. Yes, and annual reports on the activities of the aircraft carrier appeared in the public access much later. However, gradually, the shroud of secrecy from the events of April 28 of the year began to subside, and after a certain number of years, revelations of former sailors from the Enterprise team appeared on various forums that were aboard the ship that day. One of these memories, posted under the name “The Grounding!” On the website (forum served on the Enterprise), is truly unique and allows you to shed light on the true causes of the incident.

The author of this material, judging by its content, was part of the combat crew serving the main turbo gear unit (GTZA) of the second echelon of the main power unit of the aircraft carrier (each of four such echelons included two nuclear reactors, one steam turbine and one main turbo gear unit). In particular, he points out that, since the speed limit in the San Francisco Bay is 5 nodes, and the main turbine of the GTPA was a little tricky due to “problems with maintaining a vacuum,” an order was received from the ship's central post to turn off the main pump.

“I transferred this order to my mate, Mike Yonts, and to the watch officer, Lieutenant“ Wo_ey ”(his real name will be indicated later. -“ NVO ”), changed from duty and went to the flight deck to see how we would pass under the bridge and moorings San Francisco - writes the sailor. - The day was very cloudy, and when we passed through the port of San Francisco, a downpour began. Rain poured like a bucket. All rushed to the shelter, and the marines moved to build! BUILDING !!! Then I went down to my cockpit and waited, and when I was lucky enough to get off the ship. ”

Further, the material should be a detailed description of the incident itself, which is advisable to bring in its entirety, without bills, but with some explanations:

“Suddenly, in about 9.30, the vacuum drop alarm on the main engine No. 2 (the main turbine mentioned above. - V.Shch.) Worked. The vacuum dropped to 17 inches or so before the situation stabilized. Naturally, the shafting No. 2 turned into free rotation. Mikey did not notice this, and Wo_ey did not notice ... The problem with the shafting would not have been so significant if not for the large amount of rain that winter. The depth of the fairway was supposed to be 42 feet (about 12,8 m. - “NVO”), but due to heavy rainfall in the bay brought a lot of precipitation, the depth of the fairway was only 36 feet (about 11 m. - NVO ).

So, we were beginning to be pulled aside, and then our propeller No. 1 was jammed. I heard an incomprehensible noise, and the guy who cleaned our cabin, said: "Something is wrong." I told him that everything was in order, and we just turned around, assuming that the noise was coming from the engines located in the stern. Then there was silence, and then - again the roar. Then silence again. And then this guy from the reactor warhead began to move from the starboard to the left, and he walked under the CLOSE! Then he said that we just ran aground. I replied that this is complete nonsense. We ran upstairs and saw that the starboard of the ship had risen to 25 – 30 feet (7,6 – 9,1 m. - V.SH.). Devil, we really MILLED! I went back to the cockpit. The broadcast sounded: “The personnel of the repair team of the mechanical division should arrive at installation No. 4 and installation No. 1.” Then I said that I would go to bed and asked to wake me up when this was all over ...

It took three and a half hours, but we were still at the same place, and now the water instead of water, but silt entered the heat exchanger. If I remember correctly, then our specialists had to emergency suppress nasal reactors. They even called nuclear power specialists in Washington. It became really scary ... The fact that these guys have not completely lost control over the reactors is a real miracle.

Somewhere around 5.30 (meaning 17.30. - “NVO”), the tide began, which swept us off the shoals, and near 6.00 we were already at the pier. I got off the ship, only to say “Hello!” To my brother, his wife and her parents, to hug them, after which I came back ... I never left the pier on the first day ”.


According to the information given by the author of this material, Mikey and Wo_ey mentioned in the text came under investigation. “For a lieutenant (“ Wo_ey ”), the career in the atomic fleet ended here,” the author of the memoirs points out. “Soon he left the service.” “They ignored the central post when“ ship speed less than 10 nodes ”sounded from there,” wrote a former sailor from the Enterprise in a postscript. - I remember that “Wo_ey” was somehow not of this world officer. And I don't think they even turned off the pump. ”

The author of the above post wished to remain anonymous, indicating only his name - Tony. The name of the "lieutenant", he also did not specify. However, I managed, it seemed, to restore it. First, “Tony” indicated in the text the name and surname of a real crew member — the 3 class chief engineer — driver Mike Yonts, who served at that time in the mechanical division of the AVMA’s Enterprise Combat Division (Reactor Department), and -second, in other posts in this forum, some other data was voiced on this officer, in particular, the initials and his real military rank.

As a result, having carefully studied the commemorative book dedicated to the combat service of AVMA "Enterprise" for 1982 – 1983 years, Ensin KP was found in the section “Reactor CU” in the list of personnel of its engineering division. Vuley (ENS KP Wooley; the military rank of “Ensign” is the primary officer rank in the US Navy and is generally consistent with the Russian military rank of “lieutenant”). Thus, we can assume that we have identified all the persons "involved" in such a "cheerful" completion of the next combat service of the world's first atomic aircraft carrier who served more than half a century in the US Navy and retired at the end of 2013.

As for captain Robert J. Kelly, the ship's commander, landing an atomic aircraft carrier stranded cost him only a slight slowdown in receiving the first admiral star, but then he reached the full, “four-star” admiral and 15 February 1991 of the year became the commander of the US Navy Pacific Fleet . He left this post 6 August 1994 of the year (for more information on his biography can be found in the attached box).

For comparison, when 2 February 1963 of the year in the same area stranded mid-aircraft carrier Coral Sea (USS Coral Sea, CV-43), its commander, captain Robert Martin Elder, was removed from his post and in the same year dismissed. Then the “floating airfield”, while traveling to Pier 3 pier of the Alameda naval airbase, ran aground at the mouth of the Auckland estuary, a small strait separating Auckland and Alameda and flowing into San Francisco Bay in its western tip and San Bay Leandro - in its eastern part. The ship stranded for more than 9 hours, getting to clean water with 10 tugboats. In the case of the commander of the atomic multi-purpose aircraft carrier Enterprise, such embarrassment turned only a slowdown in obtaining the admiral rank. Among equals, as usual, there are those who are significantly more equal ...
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  1. Serge72
    Serge72 14 January 2018 07: 48 New
    It happens to everyone...
    The author is well done, interesting
    1. Vard
      Vard 14 January 2018 08: 32 New
      Hey ... You are heading towards us ... Turn off ... This is an aircraft carrier Enterprise of weights 100 tons ... You turn it off ... This is a lighthouse keeper on a cape ... Weight 000 tons ... Turn off !! !
  2. parusnik
    parusnik 14 January 2018 08: 32 New
    The main thing is that I did not sink ... Thanks to the author ...
    1. igordok
      igordok 14 January 2018 08: 42 New
      Quote: parusnik
      The main thing is that I did not sink ...

      Why? I would then receive the title of Hero of the Soviet Union. recourse
  3. Curious
    Curious 14 January 2018 10: 03 New
    Among navigational accidents, grounding ranks first, both in the number of cases and in the losses from them. In the world, every 10 days an average of one landing is stranded.
    The main reasons for landing a ship aground are:
    • navigator errors - 90% human factor
    • physical circumstances (meteorological conditions) 5%
    • touching unknown obstacles 3%
    • lack of navigation aids 1%
    • failure of the main engine or steering device 1%.
    Areas in which the most frequent landings: approaches to ports, straits, channels, raid unloading areas.
    Therefore, this accident could be called typical, if not for one very serious factor - there would be a dangerous danger not only for the crews of ships, but also for residents of vast regions adjacent to the seas, as well as for the ecology of the Earth, accidents of ships with nuclear power plants. Therefore, it is worth paying tribute to the actions of the reactor compartment warhead.
    As can be seen from the above, in the vast majority of cases, the cause of the accident is the notorious "human" factor. Moreover, this "factor" is valid for all fleets, without exception. And it leads to an accident in such cases, where it would seem to be impossible at all. As an example, landing on stones on September 28, 2007 in the Ussuri Bay under simple hydrometeorological conditions (wind - northwest 8-12 m / s, sea 2 points, visibility - 7 miles) when performing work on adjusting the lag on the Ussuri measuring line small anti-submarine ship "Korean".
    For information, the measuring line is a section of the coastal water area equipped with a system of gauges to determine the speed of the ship and conduct progressive testing of the ship.
    In the area of ​​the measuring line there is a section of 3-5 nautical miles long (5,5-9,3 km) with sufficient depth, sheltered from the influence of winds and waves, with minimal constant currents.
  4. Alf
    Alf 14 January 2018 10: 51 New
    All this is very interesting, but the question arises. If the sand bank is 500 meters from the port entrance (i.e., on the site of the busiest traffic) and ships land at frightening intervals, why haven’t the dredging vessels been washed this bank yet? It is not necessary to wash out to the center of the Earth.
  5. voyaka uh
    voyaka uh 14 January 2018 11: 24 New
    There is a powerful current. I stood for a long time in the middle of the Golden Gate Bridge (the view from there is amazing)
    , watched as motor ships, boats, yachts. It is evident that they are not easy.
    Fur seals (are sea lions?) Have fun like this: they swim with all their might against the current, then they lie on their backs and get high - they go with the flow, the flippers are folded on the chest, they are blissful (and play so many times).
  6. stoqn477
    stoqn477 14 January 2018 13: 00 New
    Had an aircraft carrier, planted ... If you didn’t have anything aground, they didn’t land.
    1. Alf
      Alf 14 January 2018 21: 29 New
      Quote: stoqn477
      Had an aircraft carrier, planted ... If you didn’t have anything aground, they didn’t land.

      What are you doing?
  7. Megamarcel
    Megamarcel 14 January 2018 13: 32 New
    If it was 1983, it was possible to gloat while living in the USSR over stupid Yankees. However, now is 2018 and the USSR is already a quarter century away. So who are we laughing at? American aircraft carriers both drove and drove across the seas and oceans, but we can’t repair the last TAKR. So it’s important that we don’t have similar cases, because there aren’t any such ships in terms of displacement either.
    1. WapentakeLokki
      WapentakeLokki 14 January 2018 17: 31 New
      You can gloat in advance over the land Chinese who have completed the second and third aircraft carrier already approaching, or let's say over the Indians with their fire on the atomic submarine standing in the port but ... This is the sea of ​​gentlemen, but it does not forgive anyone: neither the withered fleet of Russia nor the mattresses that were burnt by impunity - him in the sea ...
    2. Lock36
      Lock36 14 January 2018 20: 54 New
      Quote: MegaMarcel
      If it was 1983, it was possible to gloat while living in the USSR over stupid Yankees.

      How is this connected? Why is it impossible in the Russian Federation?
      You probably cry all day? Since the USSR is no more, then life is not a joy? Can suicide already?
  8. Badger
    Badger 15 January 2018 12: 05 New
    Quote: Lock36
    Quote: MegaMarcel
    If it was 1983, it was possible to gloat while living in the USSR over stupid Yankees.

    How is this connected? Why is it impossible in the Russian Federation?
    You probably cry all day? Since the USSR is no more, then life is not a joy? Can suicide already?
  9. Badger
    Badger 15 January 2018 12: 05 New
    most stupid comment
  10. Snakebyte
    Snakebyte 29 January 2018 23: 56 New
    But Kelly was raised for a reason.
    This incident occurred during the return of an aircraft carrier from one of the most prominent operations of the US Navy - students1 "Flitex 82".
    The Soviet fleet missed the deployment of aircraft carrier strike groups in close proximity to its coast, could neither detect them nor even track them (although almost all the forces of the fleet and missile-carrying aircraft were thrown at this). Two huge aircraft carriers (Enterprise and Midway) calmly walked past Kamchatka, entered the Sea of ​​Okhotsk and maneuvered 500-600 km from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. Conducted a number of violations of the air border. Successfully avoided meeting with the MRA strike forces. And calmly reached the Sea of ​​Japan.