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1965 Philippine Sea A-4 incident
A MK43 free-fall nuclear weapon on a handling dolly
Incident summary
Date December 5, 1965
Summary Pre-flight human error
Site Philippine Sea,[1] 80 mi (130 km)
E of Ryukyu Islands[2]
(U.S.-occupied Okinawa)
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]
Fatalities Pilot (LTJG Douglas M. Webster)[3]
Aircraft type Douglas A-4E Skyhawk
Operator 12px Attack Squadron VA-56[4]
Carrier Air Wing Five
Registration BuNo 151022[4]

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 from the aircraft carrier USS Ticonderoga.[5]

The accident[]

On 5 December 1965, 31 days after Ticonderoga's departure from U.S. Naval Base Subic Bay in the Philippines,[5] 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 Attack Squadron 56; and the B43 nuclear bomb were never recovered[6] from the 16,000 ft (4,900 m) depth.[1] The accident occurred 80 miles (130 km) from Okinawa.[2][7]

Ticonderoga had aboard Carrier Air Wing Five during this cruise, with two squadrons of Skyhawks, the other being VA-144.[8]


It was not until the 1980s that the Pentagon revealed the loss of the one-megaton bomb.[9] The revelation inspired a diplomatic inquiry from Japan requesting details.[10]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 (transcription in YouTube caption) USS Ticonderoga (CVA-14) Deck Log (Report). "National Archives"(previously at Washington Navy Yard: Deck Log section). December 5, 1965. Retrieved 2012-04-18.  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 Ryukyu Islands).
  2. 2.0 2.1 Gibson, James N. Nuclear Weapons of the United States – An Illustrated History. Atglen, Pennsylvania.: Schiffer Publishing, 1996, LCCN 96-67282, ISBN 0-7643-0063-6, p. 130.
    Winchester, Jim, Douglas A-4 Skyhawk: Heineman's Hot Rod. Barnsley, Yorkshire, United Kingdom: Pen & Sword Books, 2005, ISBN 1-84415-085-2, page 199. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Gibson" defined multiple times with different content
  3. 3.0 3.1 "LTJG Douglas M. Webster". 1965-12-05. Retrieved 2010-03-28. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Oskins, James C; Maggelet, Michael H. (2007). Broken Arrow: The Declassified History of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Accidents. Lulu Publishing. p. 217, ch. 29. ISBN 1-4357-0361-8. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Ticonderoga Cruise Reports" ( weblist of Aug 2003 compilation from cruise reports). Retrieved 2012-04-20. "The National Archives hold[s] deck logs for aircraft carriers for the Vietnam Conflict." 
  6. Broken Arrows at Accessed Aug 24, 2007.
  7. Winchester, Jim, Douglas A-4 Skyhawk: Heineman's Hot Rod. Barnsley, Yorkshire, United Kingdom: Pen & Sword Books, 2005, ISBN 1-84415-085-2, p. 199.
  9. "U.S. Confirms '65 Loss of H-Bomb Near Japanese Islands". May 9, 1989. p. A-27. 
  10. Washington, D.C.: The Washington Post, "Japan Asks Details On Lost H-Bomb", Wednesday, 10 May 1989, page A-35.

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