Letter: Explosions not unknown in ships

Regarding the article on last year’s gun mount explosion aboard the USS Kidd:

I served in the late 1950’s on the destroyer USS McNair (DD 679) while a seaman, and operated with the USS Kidd. Both were Fletcher-class destroyers. We also operated with The Sullivans and several other Fletcher-class destroyers.

While assigned, my general quarters station was Gun Mount 4 on the aft of the ship. Among my assignments: I was a projectile man, powder man and fuse-setter. Should the gun be elevated while the powder keg overhangs the end of the gun (it rarely happens but if the ramming arm fails to return to the end of the gun, the powder keg can be placed in the wrong location) and as the elevation takes place, it can cause the powder keg to become bent and explode. It happened on one of the ships operating with us out of Newport, R.I., and almost happened while I was powder man. Quick action averted this on my watch, so to speak.

I retired from the Navy as a chief petty officer in 1976, having served 20 years. I just thought I would share my experience, since at one time I knew some of the crew on the Kidd, and still keep in touch with some of the crew I knew back then on the McNair (the “Mighty Mac” we called her).

Carl Pharr

Navy retiree
Grayslake, Ill.