USS MIDWAY (CV 41), Explosion/Fire, June 1990          


PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii -- The 1,002-foot aircraft carrier USS Midway and the merchant ship Cactus collided in Far Eastern waters Tuesday, killing two U.S. sailors and injuring three others, a Navy spokesman said.

Apparently no crewmen of the 450-foot Cactus, a ship of Panamanian registry, were injured, according to Lt. Cmdr. Mike Doubleday, a Pacific Fleet public affairs officer.

The names of the sailors killed and injured were being withheld pending notification of their families.

The Navy said the accident would be investigated. An official declined to discuss the sequence of events preceding the collision or any maneuvering by either ship, saying "it would be inappropriate to discuss matters which will be properly addressed in the course of the investigation."

The 64,000-ton Midway, en route to Singapore with a crew of 4,000, sustained no structural damage to the Cactus was not immediately known, Doubleday said.

The collision occurred at 7:20 a.m. CDT Tuesday in a passage between the Palawan Island and North Borneo, 450 miles southwest of the U.S. naval base at Subic Bay, the Phillipines.

There were no fires aboard the petroleum-fueled carrier and none reported aboard the merchant ship, Doubleday said.

A Navy report issued in Washington said the Midway's catwalks and deck supports on the port side had been damaged, an elevator had been jammed and three holes had been punched in the ship's hull plates.

Six planes near the elevator had what was described as moderate damage, the Navy said. The planes were not identified. The Midway carries about 70 aircraft.

The origin and destination of the Cactus was not immediately known. Reference books show the Cactus has a normal crew of 31.

The Midway, whose home port is Yokosuka, Japan, is the only U.S. aircraft carrier operating in the Western Pacific.

Asked whether another carrier would be moved into the area to replace the Midway, the Navy said in a statement: "It is unknown at this time how this incident will affect future deployment of Pacific Fleet carriers."

The Navy's carrier resources are strained by orders that it keep two such ships in the Indian Ocean-Arabian Sea area at all times.