John McCain Started the Aircraft Carrier USS Forrestal Fire that Killed 134 Sailors-Fiction!

Summary of eRumor:

Senator John McCain started the 1967 aircraft carrier USS Forrestal fire that killed 134 sailors.

The Truth:

John McCain wasn’t to blame for the 1967 fire aboard the USS Forrestal — but that stubborn claim has been circulating since McCain ran for president in 2008, and it resurfaced on the tragedy’s 50th anniversary in 2017.

It’s not clear where the John McCain-USS Forrestal rumor started, but it’s been widely circulated in forwarded emails. The gist of these emails is that McCain, who was held as a prisoner of war for five and a half years during the Vietnam War, was a”hotshot” pilot who crashed planes and started the USS Forrestal fire because he was trying to show off or was clowning around. These claims are often circulated with the subject line or headline “The Real John McCain

In 2015, shortly after then-GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump said that John McCain was not a hero, the idea that McCain was responsible for the USS Forrestal fire was advanced by LewRockwell.com, an opinion website founded by “archo-capitalists” Lew Rockwell and Burt Blumert in 1999, under the headline, “Trump is Correct, John McCain is NOT A Hero.” The post claims that McCain accidentally started the USS Forrestal fire by doing a “wet start” of his plane’s engine, and that the Navy covered it up:

When a pilot wants to be a wise ass or show off, this type of engine start creates a large startling flame and lots of surprise noise from the rear of a jet engine on start up–this was no accident. This and the large subsequent electrical surge and apparent (incorrect and against policy) weapon arming (by the pilot) caused the launching of a powerful Zuni rocket across the carrier’s deck hitting other parked planes (photo below) that were packing 1,000 high-explosive pound bombs. The subsequent massive explosions, fire and destruction went several decks below and nearly sunk this major 82,000 ton U.S. aircraft carrier.

It should be noted that this post, and earlier forwarded emails, don’t attempt to provide any proof that John McCain started the USS Forrestal fire and the Navy lied about it. They simply advance a narrative that runs contrary to all available accounts. An official report on the USS Forrestal fire filed in 1969 concluded that it was caused by an Mk-32 “Zuni” rocket misfire. The rocket, which was attached to an F-4B Phantom II, launched after “sufficient electrical current” was supplied from an external power source. The rocket hit a nearby plane, triggering a series of explosions and fire that eventually destroyed the air carrier and left 134 sailers dead.

John McCain to blame for USS Forrestal fire
An excerpt from a 1969 report outlined the sequence of events that led to the USS Forrestal fire.

John McCain narrowly escaped the USS Forrestal fire. He wrote about the experience in his book “Faith of My Fathers,” and he told the Arizona Republic in 2007 that the USS Forrestal disaster was one of the most impactful events of McCain’s life, even more so than being shot down before he was taken prisoner: “To be honest with you, the Forrestal fire seems to be a more impactful date I remember more than that of when I was shot down.”

Given that there’s nothing in the way of proof or hard evidence to contradict the official version of events that led to the USS Forrestal fire that killed 134 sailers, we’re calling claims that John McCain was to blame “fiction.”

A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:

Collected on: 08/07/2017
John McCain USS Forrestal
Despite lack of evidence and contrary to official accounts, claims that John McCain started the USS Forrestal fire resurfaced in July 2017.