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Below is a conversation which took place in June of 2003 among Bill Jurens and
the regular members of the Turret 2 Explosion discussion board:
From: USS IOWA Turret #2 Explosion Discussion
Board -- Hello to the board (Bill Jurens)
Hello to board
Posted on June 8, 2003 at 09:19:12 PM by Bill
I ran across this board somewhat by accident whilst
'surfing' on another topic. As some of you may know, I was involved in the investigation, know some of the principals, and actually wrote a paper on
the subject, published in Warship International in the period between the release of the official navy report and the Sandia investigation. I was, in fact,
contacted as a consultant by Dahlgren shortly after the explosion occurred, as I have a good deal of documentary information regarding previous explosions and
Unfortunately, although the Ring of Truth got through
publication fine, the second portion of that paper -- The Ring of Truth Part II -- was never completed. If such can be done without opening new wounds, it
would be nice to try to complete that now.
In that regard, I feel that at least some of the
members on this board may be able to give me useful information to ensure that the truth -- or as close to the truth as we may ever get -- will actually come
In return, I may have some insights into the
investigative process, and ordnance in general, which may be useful and interesting to the rest of you.
But, like all of you, I do wish, eventually, to
determine the truth.
I await being welcomed aboard. Some things I say may
make things easier to understand. Others may -- always accidentally -- offend. So, if you choose not to invite me, then that is OK, too.
Re(1): Hello to board
Posted on June 11, 2003 at 06:22:02 PM by Kathy
Greetings Bill. I would love to share information with
you regarding the IOWA incident. As you know, I am Clay Hartwig's sister, so I have a vested interest in all new information! Please let us know how to
contact you. There are several of us here who would love to exchange thoughts and theories with you! After all these years, we are still on top of things. I
lost my only brother, and the others lost sons. It hasn't gotten any better and it's going to be 15 years soon. Thanks for your offer, we'd love to
take you up on it...right Peggy...and Nancy?????
Re(2): Hello to board
Posted on July 5, 2003 at 11:52:38 PM by Richard
Hello. First a word about me. I'm an engineer with
lots of experience. Well.. to try to make a long story short, I happened to meet an interesting looking guy with an "USS IOWA" cap on. So, of course
I started asking him about all this navy horsehocky about what happened. This guy happened to be the "boss" of the guys in the turret. Of course,
there is an appropriate navy terminology for him, "chief petty officer" or some such.
So, he said what most likely happened was that the silk powder bag ripped open when it was rammed. This being very old powder, I think he said it was common to
happen. The silk material itself had weakened with time. This normally wouldn't have caused an explosion because the sailors are wearing anti-static
clothing, and the metal parts were brass so no spark should be around to light it. The big problem is, they've had many electrical fires. Now picture this,
the turret brings ammuntion from the magazine which could be 3 stories below it. Its a very old ship, and the electricians are repairing electrical fires and
problems all the time. Below the turret there is lots of electrical stuff that can cause problems. As the gunpowder was falling down 3 stories the chances are
all too good that it found an electrical fault or spark. So, that's it in a nutshell. And that's the most logical explanation I've ever heard. If
anyone should know, this guy should have. Now don't ask me for his name, I've forgotten it and he told me not to tell anyway.
Now about the official version... Just remember the following old saying..
When a politician walks back and forth, he's telling the truth. When a politician scratches his nose, he's telling the truth. When he ties his shoe,
he's telling the truth. But when he moves his lips, he's not telling the truth.
As I recall, this guy said something else about it too.. He said that the sailor's reaction just before the explosion, what they said tended to indicate to
him that it was a bag failure, nothing more. They said something like "we have a problem here".
This indicated to my friend the "boss" that there was not some major failure of some sort, but something happened that was not that unusual, like the
bag failure. Too bad, I don't remember his name. I met him in Elmhurst, Illinois while waiting for an antique railroad steam engine to come by. So he's
a railfan too.
Hope I helped, I know what the government can be
Let me describe him.. this "boss" was maybe 35 years old and kind of short and fat. That figures, since I guess you can't be too big and fit
around there, and navy food makes you fat I think. Bye.
Re(2): Hello to board
Posted on June 12, 2003 at 00:36:16 AM by Bill
Thanks very much for your kind reply and invitation to
participate. I will certainly contribute what I can.
I certainly do know who you are.
Hopefully, I can give you -- and some of the other
members on this message board -- some insights into exactly how the investigative team arrived at some of the conclusions it did, how the resulting reports
might best be interpreted, and what the "real" findings were, though never really written up a such. Your brother was not the only one to get a
'raw deal' from some people in the Navy. But there were, I believe, fewer "villians" than you might think, and there was certainly no cover
up. At least not on the technical side.
Hopefully, you and some of the other members of this
group can probably help me with some detailed issues in return.
Please give me a few days to clean up some other work
here, and I can begin to explain some things that may, even at this late date, make you feel somewhat better.
I should write again in a week or so. If I do not,
please 'remind' me with a memo to my e-mail address.
I totally support what you are doing, and hope that we
can all work together in the future.
Re(3): Hello to board
Posted on June 14, 2003 at 03:00:32 PM by Nancy
I would tell you that we have all the time in the
world, but some of us, not Kathy, are getting older! You finish the things you need to, cuz we are gonna wear you out!
Posted on June 12, 2003 at 11:46:43 AM by
Thanks again. Looking forward to our future
Posted on June 14, 2003 at 08:43:28 PM by Bill
As I do have a few minutes free, I thought it might be
a good time to give you some additional background. If these descriptions raise any questions, please feel free to address them, either in this forum, or by
phoning me direct at (xxx) xxx-xxxx. [Phoned number removed , May 2008 - SB] I live in Winnipeg,
Prior to the explosion, I had been involved in a
variety of ways in the Gunnery Improvement Program, which was designed to -- as the name implies -- improve the gunnery of the Iowa class ships. My major
contribution was in lending perspective to what had been done before as I had (and have) a great deal of information on previous battleship
Several weeks after the explosion took place, I was
contacted by Dahlgren asking if I had any ideas as to what might have gone wrong. It was clear -- as I had suspected -- that the exact cause of the explosion
was a mystery.
During the subsequent weekend -- Easter long weekend as
I recall -- I went through approximately 22000 pages of reports on twentieth-century gunnery accidents and incidents in the U.S.N., dating from about 1920
through to about 1941. During this period, the big guns were in regular use, and -- as one might expect, quite a few accidents -- usually minor -- took place.
I was looking for incidents similar to the one which took place aboard the Iowa, and was also looking for evidence as to exactly how suceptible various
propellants, etc. were to accidental ignition.
My findings were that there were no incidents similar
to the Iowa tragedy, and that the bags and propellant had proven in service to be much more resistant to accidental ignition than anyone had any reasonable
reason to believe. About two weeks after I submitted my findings, Joe Micelli phoned me and we had about a half-hour discussion revolving around my findings
and my sources. Joe wanted to know if there was any reasonable chance that the propellant could have been accidentally ignited. I told him that based on
previous accidents -- some of which were very hairy indeed - the chance of an accidental ignition of the propellant bags ranged from very very small to nil.
Joe Micelli was very concerned, and listened very carefully indeed. I'm sure he got similar information from other sources as well.
I can't recall if we discussed the possibility of sabotage. If we did, I probably would have ruled this out as well, as there is very little precedent for
this sort of thing.
You know much better than I the details of how the NIS
boys got involved, and what they did afterwards. I don't condone the NIS investigation, and, frankly, concur with your assessment of their efforts and
tactics. I, of course, being on the technical side, had nothing to do with this part. Clearly, though, if an accidental ignition source could be ruled out or
judged to be highly improbable, some sort of deliberate act was the only other possibility.
"Off the record" I can tell you that,
mechanically at least, nobody -- or at least nobody left alive -- knows the real cause of the ignition. We tried and tried to duplicate the accident at
Dahlgren and couldn't succeed unless an artificial ignition source was used. That's not to say that we know that one WAS used, and certainly not to say
that if we think one existed that we know how it got there. We just don't know.
Sandia's over-ramming hypothesis is silly. It was a
political decision to get Sandia involved. After the NIS boys made such a botch-up of the investigation, it was clearly nearly impossible, and inappopriate,
for the Navy to persue any other individuals as potential perpetrators. And, the Dahlgren investigations weren't very satisfying either, as we couldn't
pin down a purely mechanical failure as a cause of the explosion either. One has to remember that the technical side of the investigation really COULDN'T
generate a bull*** answer like some of the political and legal forces could. If we got the answer wrong, another explosion, perhaps even worse than the first
one, could -- and perhaps would -- happen again. So Dalgren HAD to have the right answer. And -- if you read the final Navy reports carefully -- you'll
find that the correct answer is that "We just don't know". And we don't.
Sandia got involved because Dalhgren refused to bow to
political pressure and declare a mechanical failure as the cause. So, Sandia stepped in and 'invented' one, namely the over-rammed bags business. Of
course Sandia couldn't duplicate the explosion in a gun any more than Dahlgren could. So, they created an artificial test setup -- bags and cranes --
'pushed' the physics a bit, and finally got an ignition. That let everybody, in a sense, 'off the hook', as Dahlgren could still disagree --
which they do -- Sandia and the Government could claim they had found a cause and hence closure, and, because the failure could be identified as mechanical, no
further NIS involvement need take place.
And, they hoped it might just go
Dahlgren and the Navy continued to investigate the
explosion for some years afterwards, and I have some of their reports. They don't do much but shed additional doubt on the Sandia claim(s). They don't
claim to be able to identify a specific ignition source.
I think it's fair to say that most of the technical
team feel that somebody, somehow, somewhere, must have put something in the gun. There must have been an ignition source.
What the source was, who put it there, and why it was
placed, will probably remain a more-or-less permanent mystery.
Although there are some real villians in this piece, I
do want to give you my very honest opinion and tell you that I don't think Joe Micelli was one of them.
We've spoken and corresponded at considerable length during the last few years, and I can tell you that his only concern was getting at the truth. His
actions often seemed implausible and unreasonable to me during the investigation itself, but that was because I, like most of the others involved, only had a
part of the picture at any one time. Now that the investigation is over and he can speak more freely, his explanations all make very good sense indeed. Joe had
to step on some toes in order to make sure the truth got out, and he was -- I'm sure -- often gruff, (apparently) opinionated, and (apparently) impatient.
That's a characteristic of leadership. He got raked over by the media, too, who made him look like a complete idiot. He's not. And he's not a bad
guy either. He had a tough job to do under great pressure. And he did it well.
I do hope this helps a bit. If you have any specific
questions, or even general ones, please let me know.
All the best...
Posted on June 19, 2003 at 08:58:54 PM by Annete
If you have listened to Miceli you are a real fool and
do not know what a coverup even looks like. He proposed to you some possible thing, and you listened right like most fools, seems right,plausible, right? you
don't have another clue right? , and you did not not think further than that? right?. That is what a fool is at its worse. Want me to give you some
senarios different, not my job, My job is to ask you if you pursued some different senarios? Micelli will lead you down a path, not just you, but many others
have pursued the same path, think hundreds, etc. Not just this problem. Think again hundreds. He is really good at that. Have you then pursued the other
possible paths? Hell not. There is where he wants you. FOOL. Annete
Posted on June 17, 2003 at 02:13:52 PM by William
Hello Mr. Jurens...I'm a bit of a Naval History
Buff living in New Jersey. I recently visited the IOWA's sister ship, BB-62 now moored in Camden and on public display. The tour guide talked about the
incident aboard the IOWA and said that the accident was due to a Navy experiment with the 16 inch rifle, involving mixed bags of propellant. He further said
that after the experiment failed the Navy refused to acknowlege that the accident was due to a failed experiment and that a cover-up ensued. Can you either
verify or deny that information? Thank you in advance for your response. William Vollmer
Posted on June 17, 2003 at 08:45:07 PM by Bill
There is, in my opinion, some confusion regarding this
issue. What one gets now, and has gotten for some years, is a sort of 'distortion' of reality, probably caused by the story being re-told too many
times by individuals with relatively little technical knowledge.
It was known, before the explosion took place, that
some experimentation regarding propellant loading was going on. This was approved up and down the line. Careful investigation confirmed that although at times
some of the paperwork was a bit sloppy, none of these experimental loads could have led to an explosion, and in fact that none were even remotely unsafe. I was
involved in some of this, albeit peripherally, as part of my participation in the Gunnery Improvement Program. I knew that these fellows were
Once the idea of an accidental ignition could be ruled
out -- or at least categorized as highly improbable -- then some of the focus of the investigation shifted to exactly what sort of igniter might have been
used, and to how it might have been placed in the gun. This is where the NIS boys got involved, and this is the part of the investigation which has led to so
much heartbreak and frustration the part of various family and crewmembers. I think they went entirely overboard.
One consideration was that perhaps someone on the
experimental team -- perhaps impatient at what they felt was too-slow progress in the improvement program -- had somehow arranged to have an unauthorized
igniter inserted in the gun and tested "on the sly". This had never in a million years occurred to me, but -- to give credit where credit is due --
it did occur to Joe Miceli, who followed this particular trail to a dead end. At some cost to the individuals who found themselves suddently 'under the
gun'. There would have been no cover-up, that's for sure. The guilty parties would have been crucified!
I think that I may have actually been asked about this
issue very early on. If so, I would have certainly replied "No possible way!"
While it's impossible to disprove this
'experiment gone wrong' hypothesis out of hand, I can tell you that some very blunt questioning and investigation led to the conclusion that this was
not a likely scenario. I don't think it's very likely scenario either. I thought about the possible causes of the explosion for a very long time, and
-- perhaps because I knew quite a few of the individuals on the Gunnery Improvement Program on a personal basis -- never even considered this as a possibility.
None of these guys would have dreamed of doing anything that was dangerous.
Hope this helps...
Posted on June 19, 2003 at 10:06:03 PM by Annette
You can call me becuase I do not want to be part of a
law suit. Call me collect.. I know Miceli. I you are think him to be credible, then I do not. xxx-xxx-xxxx. [Phoned number removed ,
May 2008 - SB]
Posted on June 19, 2003 at 09:52:11 PM by Annette
Your explanation is being passed on to a lot of people.
They may or not catch a glimse of hell. Annette
Posted on June 19, 2003 at 11:52:21 PM by Bill
I will respond, to the best of my ability and in a
sincere and respectful manner only to comments and/or questions which are phrased in a similar way. I will not respond to insults, invective, accusation and
innuendo. In looking over the contents of this thread, it is obvious that some individuals have conducted themselves in a reasonable and respectful manner
whereas others have not.
In that regard, I would request that the webmaster delete the offensive posts that have been addressed to me, and that the author(s) of those posts be
cautioned against submitting similar posts in the future.
Should unpleasant and insulting posts continue and
remain on the record, then I will withdraw from the forum.
Posted on June 20, 2003 at 05:10:51 PM by stan
I think this topic of Dahlgren, Miceli and the CNIS
(criminal naval investigative service) should be moved to the Yahoo Groups iowatragedy forum, its intended purpose.
I don't want to get banned from still another
Stan Clark, Dahlgren Div, retired reliability
Posted on June 24, 2003 at 11:32:35 PM by One
Welcome to the snake pit Bill! It won't take you
long to figure out who actually contributes usefull info here.
Posted on June 25, 2003 at 07:41:02 PM by
What is that "snake pit" remark supposed to
mean? Who says that this site was set up to collect "useful" information? (If your looking for "useful" information...you didn't find
any in the NIS or Milligan report. Those people are the SNAKES, not those of us who share our thoughts here.) And, by the way, One Gunner...you are in
violation of this boards rules once again...you didn't leave an email address to which someone may respond!!!
Posted on June 26, 2003 at 04:16:43 PM by One
What did I mean by it? Didn't you read any of
Annette's "feelings". Bill could probably shed some factual light on some questions that some of you have, but may not post here anymore. Who
could blame him.
Posted on June 26, 2003 at 05:18:17 PM by
Annette is just as entitled to post here as anyone
else. I'd say that being that she was Crane employee, that she has a lot to say, especially about that IDIOT Miceli!!!! Why the sarcasim all the time from
you? She left an email address abiding by our rules, what about you?
Posted on June 27, 2003 at 04:43:25 PM by
It goes for EVERYONE who wants to participate here from
now on...to keep out trouble-makers...we are INSISTING on valid email address. Period.
After June 2003, there were no further posts to this discussion thread, as far as I am aware.
SB - May 2008
May 28 08 4:08 PM
What was cause determined to be? Mishandling of powder or a suicide?
iirc, the "suicide" theory was pretty much determined to be completely false, and the entire investigation threw quite serious doubts on the
general competence of the NCIS, as it seems to have concluded the cause was criminal before even starting the investigation. I've been on the periphery of
accident investigations; assigning a cause to an accident before investigation is like the Red Queen's court in Alice in Wonderland: verdict first, trial
May 29 08 6:42 PM
May 29 08 8:25 PM
May 29 08 9:08 PM
May 29 08 10:32 PM
2nd Class but he had a good slew of decorations so he may have been busted a few times. He seemed pretty squarred away to me though , and his valor
This site is a bit...controversial...but it may explain your observation:
"controversial" is putting it mildly.....
not to say that none of that could not have happened, but it seems unlikely. The key is that they say upfront that there are no records and they could not
discuss it with anyone, including the alleged victim which tells me right away that it is largely fabricated based on hearsay. So highly questionable to say
the least. I for one, don't buy it. There are so many ways someone who thinks he's being railroaded (to use a mild term) can take the issue up the
chain, to the IG, etc. that I really really doubt this is factual on all points.
this account also relies on the complete abdication of responsibility, integrity, etc., on the part of this entire chain of command from CPO through Flag
Officers. Now, many will point out that is exactly what happened with the NCIS investigation and I will not argue that point. But that got caught and
corrected which is my point regarding the institutional integrity. Flag Officers personally apoligized to the families and took responsibility. The
account in the link has none of that and is written as many of the "phony soldier" fabricated accounts are.
so I kinda don't buy it.
May 29 08 11:13 PM
May 30 08 1:13 AM
May 30 08 3:03 AM
I know several definitions to that.
May 30 08 4:48 AM
May 30 08 5:25 PM
The most basic comes from the habit of elitist US Naval Academy grads to knock their "class ring" on a table while talking with other officers... a
kind of USN "fraternity secret handshake" that identifies you as that most superior form of Naval Life... an Academy Grad.
"Ringknockers" tend to believe others of their kind above scumbag NROTC, OCS, or other types of Naval Officers... even if the RK is of lower rank
than the "not-a-real-Naval-officer". They also show favoritism toward their frat brothers.
There are many Academy grads who are NOT RKs, but they are less visible, acting just like the non-Academy-type officers.
oddly enough, I saw an analysis of flag selectees a few years back that had a higher percentage of AOCS types than Academy types. Inside the wardroom, the
RK were generally not;
in the majority
held in either higher or lower esteem by the rest of us unwashed scum
my son (USNA 2006) does not pull that stuff (at least not around me or his older brother (TAMU 2001))
in my view, it was merely a school fraternity of brothers thing that we all tend to do rather than anything more.
Jun 8 08 12:09 AM
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