Friday, November 16, 2001

Navy says M-60 machine gun
was accidentally fired
from USS Nimitz

By Gregg K. Kakesako

The Navy now says that a M-60 machine gun was the weapon that was accidentally fired last week by a sailor on the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz.

Only one sailor was involved in the accidental firing of the 42-inch machine gun, which can fire 550 rounds per minute.

The Navy said the sailor accidentally chambered one round in the machine gun and discharged it.

The M-60 has a maximum range of 2.3 miles. The Navy has said the single round was fired from the Nimitz, which was anchored near Halawa Landing, adjacent to the USS Arizona Memorial visitor center.

The Navy says the bullet apparently traveled across Kamehameha Highway and landed somewhere in the Makalapa complex. The Navy said it has not been able to find the bullet.

The sailor was a member of Nimitz's security detail on Nov. 5 and has been relieved of that duty while an investigation is conducted. However, Cmdr. Jack Papp, Navy spokesman, said the sailor is still a member of the Nimitz's crew.

The Nimitz left the islands Nov. 8 after a five-day layover, returning to its San Diego home port.

Papp said he could not say what the sailor was doing to cause the machine gun to fire because that is part of the Navy's investigation.

The Nimitz has completed a three-year, $1.3 billion overhaul and the refueling of its two nuclear reactors in Norfolk, Va.

This is the second accidental shooting by a ship berthed at Pearl Harbor.

Seven years ago, two 20 mm rounds were accidentally fired from the Phalanx Close-in Weapon system 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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