Barnegat Inlet, NJ Blimp Crashes Into Atlantic Ocean, July 1960
18 FEARED DEAD IN BLIMP CRASH.
Lakehurst, N.J. (AP) -- A huge Navy blimp with 21 men aboard plunged into the Atlantic Ocean off the central New Jersey coast Wednesday. The Navy said one man was dead, three injured and 17 missing.
The dead man and one survivor were brought to the air station here. A second survivor was en route. The third was taken to Ft. Dix hospital.
The Navy identified the dead man as EDWARD B. TURNER, JR., of Joppa, Md. TURNER had been living in Lakehurst.
Two of the survivors were identified as JOSEPH G. CULLIGAN of East Keansburg, N.J., and DONALD L. SHAUMLER of Flint, Mich.
CULLIGAN, in good condition here, told newsmen he was asleep at the time of the crash and awoke to find the gondola filling with water.
"I stood up, picked up a piece of jagged metal, cut a hole in the fabric of the balloon and got out into the water," he said.
CULLIGAN said he saw two men in the water SHAUMLER and a man he identified as CONTRERAS. CONTRERAS was unofficially identified as ANTONIO CONTRERAS of Geronimo, Tex., the third survivor.
CULLIGAN was in the water about 10 minutes but said he saw no other members of the airship's crew. He said he assumed some men were trapped inside.
The silvery airship, 403 feet long and 118 feet high, was the largest of its type in the world. It crashed while searching for a missing yacht.
The blimp hit the water about 15 miles southeast of Barnegat Inlet. Moments later only the tail section remained visible.
"It was a violent crash," said Capt. MARION H. EPPES, commander of the Lakehurst Naval Air Station. The cause was not immediately determined.
The airship was attached to the Atlantic Fleet and based here.
A helicopter and three other navy blimps continued to hover over the scene of the crash searching for survivors.
Three destroyers put whale-boats into the calm waters where the blimp showed through the surface like a pool of green dye.
The aircraft carrier Essex, Coast Guard cutters, fishing boats and Navy planes joined in the hunt.
Floating Parts Sighted.
Associated Press newsman ANDREW MEISELS, aboard the yacht Rascal at the scene of the crash, said pieces of the blimp were floating on the water like pieces of a toy balloon.
Reports of the rescuers' progress were quickly passed from boat to boat, MEISELS said, adding:
"The Coast Guard cutter Agassiz picked up a piece of gondola."
"A shouted query to the crew of the cutter disclosed that all of the gondola had not been found."
The blimp was taking part in an air and sea search for a racing yacht overdue in New York after competing in the famed Newport, R. I. to Bermuda race. The yacht, the Vat 69, and its six man crew later were reported safe.
The blimp was part of Airborne Early Warning Squadron No. 1.
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