1965 Philippine Sea A-4 incident

The 1965 Philippine Sea A-4 crash was a Broken Arrow incident in which a United States Navy Douglas A-4E Skyhawk attack aircraft carrying a nuclear weapon fell into the sea off Japan from the aircraft carrier USS Ticonderoga.[4] The aircraft, pilot and weapon were never recovered.[5]

1965 Philippine Sea A-4 incident
A MK43 free-fall nuclear weapon on a handling dolly
DateDecember 5, 1965
SummaryPre-flight human error
SitePhilippine Sea,[1]
27°33.2′N 131°19.3′E / 27.5533°N 131.3217°E / 27.5533; 131.3217[1]Coordinates: 27°33.2′N 131°19.3′E / 27.5533°N 131.3217°E / 27.5533; 131.3217[1]
Aircraft typeDouglas A-4E Skyhawk
OperatorAttack Squadron 56 Insignia (US Navy).jpg Attack Squadron VA-56[2]
Carrier Air Wing Five
RegistrationBuNo 151022[2]
Fatalities1 Pilot (LTJG Douglas M. Webster)[3]

The accidentEdit

On 5 December 1965, 31 days after Ticonderoga's departure from U.S. Naval Base Subic Bay in the Philippines,[4] the attack jet fell over the side during a training exercise while being rolled from the number 2 hangar bay to the number 2 elevator.[3] The pilot, Lieutenant (junior grade) Douglas M. Webster; the aircraft, Douglas A-4E BuNo 151022 of VA-56; and the B43 nuclear bomb were never recovered[6] from the 16,000 ft (4,900 m) depth.[1] The accident was said to occur 68 miles (59 nmi; 109 km) from Kikai Island, Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan.[7]

Ticonderoga had aboard Carrier Air Wing Five during this cruise, with two squadrons of Skyhawks. The lost aircraft was part of Attack Squadron 56 (VA-56); VA-144 was the other.[8]


It was not until 1989 that US DoD revealed the loss of the one-megaton H-bomb.[9] The revelation inspired a diplomatic inquiry from Japan requesting details.[10]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c "USS Ticonderoga (CVA-14) Deck Log". YouTube. December 5, 1965. Retrieved 2012-04-18.[unreliable source?] Transcription in YouTube caption National Archives" (previously at Washington Navy Yard: Deck Log section).[dead link]
    Note: The Joe Baugher aircraft listing for this A-4 mistakenly identifies different waters (South China Sea near Vietnam) from those specified by the Deck Log's coordinates (E of a Japanese island).
  2. ^ a b Oskins, James C; Maggelet, Michael H. (2007). Broken Arrow: The Declassified History of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Accidents. Raleigh, North Carolina: Lulu Publishing. p. 217. ISBN 978-1-4357-0361-2.[unreliable source?]
  3. ^ a b "LTJG Douglas M. Webster". A4skyhawk.org. 1965-12-05. Archived from the original on 2010-12-06. Retrieved 2010-03-28.
  4. ^ a b "Ticonderoga Cruise Reports". Archived from the original (Navy.mil weblist of Aug 2003 compilation from cruise reports) on 2004-09-07. Retrieved 2012-04-20. The National Archives hold[s] deck logs for aircraft carriers for the Vietnam Conflict.
  5. ^ Richard Halloran (May 26, 1981). "U.S. discloses accidents involving nuclear weapons". The New York Times.
  6. ^ Broken Arrows at www.atomicarchive.com. Accessed Aug 24, 2007.
  7. ^ Maruyama Kuniaki 丸山邦明 (2005). "Gunji kichi mondai to Amami" 軍事基地問題と奄美. In Kagoshima-ken chihō jichi kenkyūsho 鹿児島県地方自治研究所 (ed.). Amami sengo-shi 奄美戦後史 (in Japanese). p. 254.
  8. ^ "CV-14".
  9. ^ "U.S. Confirms '65 Loss of H-Bomb Near Japanese Islands". The Washington Post. May 9, 1989.
  10. ^ Washington, D.C.: The Washington Post, "Japan Asks Details On Lost H-Bomb", Wednesday, 10 May 1989, page A-35.