Some of the sailors killed in the air crash aboard the aircraft carrier Nimitz May 26 had been using drugs within hours of their deaths or were constant heavy users of marijuana, but none of them was in a position to have any effect on the crash, according to testimony before the House defense appropiations subcommittee yesterday.
Rep. Joseph Addabbo (D-N.Y.) said the hearing was called to "lspotlight the failure of the military on drug abuse," and at the end said he was convinced that the military is "dragging its feet" in fighting drug abuse. He also said that it is probably true that drug use on the carrier was not a factor in the crash of the EA6B radar-jamming jet.
Lt. Cmdr. David Kouns, a biochemist, testified that six of the 10 bodies had some chemical evidence of marijuana use, and three had high levels -- 75 nanograms (billionths of a gram) per milliliter of blood. That "would indicate recent or heavy use," possibly within six hours.
Vice Adm. Wesley McDonald, deputy chief of naval air operations, said that the duty cycle on board the carrier had started 11 hours before the crash. But McDonald said that since the time between the touchdown of the jet and its collision with the tail rotor of a helicopter was only two seconds, the crew "had little time to do anything except hear the crunch."
McDonald acknowledged that the one man who might have had an influence on the crash -- the landing signal officer who helps guide jets down -- was apparently not tested for drug use. But the admiral said even a mistaken signal from that officer was very unlikely to cause a crash.