USS White Plains

The Orient Express

tragedy at sea

Never Forgotten

The massive shipboard fire that claimed the lives of six of our shipmates on 9 May 1989 was a true tragedy at sea. The fire resulted from the ejection of a valve stem on the fuel transfer system which sent a high-pressure spray of fuel over the boiler and consequently ignited into a fireball. The cause of the valve stem ejection was from Navy supply system black coated/painted fasteners, that were not the right type of metal (brass vs. copper) to withstand the pressure and heat of the system and environment. It was determined after an investigation that Navy logistics had purchased the black coated fasteners for use on ship fuel systems, without confirming or inspecting their metal content. After the tragedy, a complete review of these fasteners was conducted Navy wide. There were 6 fatalities and 161 injuries reported as a result of the fire.

Memorial Plaque