Thursday, November 15, 2001

Sailor is off security watch
during Navy shooting probe

Officials are unable to comment on
what precipitated the firing

By Gregg K. Kakesako

A sailor has been taken off the USS Nimitz's security detail while the Navy investigates an incident in which he apparently accidentally fired his M-16 rifle when the nuclear aircraft carrier was docked at Pearl Harbor.

The shooting occurred Nov. 5 while the Nimitz was tied up at a pier near Halawa Landing, adjacent to the USS Arizona Memorial visitor center, during a five-day layover.

Only one sailor was involved in the shooting accident, the Navy said.

The Navy said only one bullet was discharged from an M-16 rifle, and believes it traveled across Kamehameha Highway, landing in the Makalapa complex, where offices include those of Adm. Thomas Fargo, Pacific Fleet commander.

The Navy said it has not been able to find the bullet.

Cmdr. Jack Papp, Navy spokesman in San Diego, said he could not say what the sailor was doing to cause the weapon to fire because that is part of the Navy's investigation.

The USS Nimitz, which arrived at Pearl Harbor on Nov. 3, returned to its home port in San Diego last Thursday after completing a three-year, $1.3 billion overhaul and refueling of its two nuclear reactors in Norfolk, Va.

Starting in January, the Nimitz's combat systems -- radars, computers and missiles -- will be upgraded over a four-month period.

Seven years ago, projectiles were accidentally fired from the deck of the cruiser Lake Erie moored at Pearl Harbor. The Navy believes the projectiles landed in the Koolaus above Aiea, but they were never found. Two crewmen were reprimanded.

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