The head of the Navy investigating team that conducted 20,000 tests following the gun-turret explosion aboard the USS Iowa believes the blast's cause was "most probably a chemical device," a spokesman said Tuesday.
Capt. Joseph D. Miceli, the head of the Navy technical team that looked into the cause of the blast that claimed the lives of 47 sailors last April, formed that opinion based on his continued analysis of the cause of the explosion, Navy spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Craig Quigley said.Last month, Rear Adm. Richard Milligan issued a report, based on circumstantial evidence, that Gunner's Mate Clayton Hartwig was the most likely person to have caused the explosion by placing some type of explosive device between the first and second bags of gunpowder in the No. 2 gun turret of the battleship.
In its report, the Navy concluded that Hartwig was a "loner" who was upset about the breakup of a friendship with another sailor.
Hartwig's family and some members of Congress have found fault with the Navy's study and demanded a congressional investigation.
Milligan decided to release his report last month after Navy technical experts found "foreign material" in a ring inside the barrel of the 16-inch gun that exploded, believing that was enough evidence to make the case that the explosion was most probably caused by human intervention.