Pardon Us...

The sun shone brightly as technicians aboard the destroyer U.S.S. Coontz checked over its complement of guided missiles. Suddenly, at 3:05 p.m. last Tuesday, a flash and a roar broke the quiet of the tropic afternoon. Officers on the bridge watched horrified as a 15-ft.-long Harpoon, loaded with high explosives, soared off over the blue-green waters of the Caribbean toward the resort island of St. Croix. It vanished completely.

What if the warhead had been nuclear? Then, says the Pentagon soothingly, the accidental launch could never have occurred; safety procedures for nuclear-armed missiles are much more complex. Happily, St. Croix has no...

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