This article deals with the manner in which the Newport Naval Hospital's disaster plan was implemented and partially modified to cope with mass casualty handling and treatment.
At approximately 6:30 on the morning of May 26, 1954, a serious explosion and fire occurred aboard the aircraft carrier U. S. S. Bennington (CVA-20), while routine air operations were being conducted off the coast of southern New England. Two hundred three officers and men sustained injuries, and 91 of them were either killed immediately or died shortly thereafter before medical assistance could reach them. Eighty-two of the more seriously injured patients were transferred to the U. S. Naval Hospital, Newport, R. I., for treatment. One of the ship's medical officers was killed in the explosion. The two medical officers who survived administered morphine and intravenous therapy to every patient prior to transfer. By their effort, initial treatment was promptly instituted.