Fire On USS Miami
Multiple news outlets are reporting that a fire was seen coming from the area of the dock where the USS Miami (SSN 755) is moored at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Initial reports indicate the fire is located in the forward compartment of the boat, and some firefighters have been injured.
There's not much scarier than a fire on a submarine. What is your submarine fire story?
Update 2252 23 May: Here's an update from Seacoastonline.com. Excerpts:
While the fire - located mainly in the USS Miami's living areas and in control spaces - continues to burn, the situation is improving, said Base Commander Capt. Bryant Fuller in a statement to the media at about 11:30 p.m. Six people were injured fighting the fire and were either treated at the scene or transported to a hospital, he said. One of the injured was a firefighter who suffered heat exhaustion but who was conscious and alert, said Fuller...Staying at PD...
Steam was still visible at the scene late Wednesday night, due to intense heat from the blaze combined with firefighters' efforts, said Fuller.
Firefighters were initially called to the Shipyard just before 6 p.m. for a report of a fire on a ship in dry dock. Fire crews encountered heavy smoke and fire, and two firefighters were taken from the scene with injuries, the officials said, adding two more firefighters were later taken from the scene for treatment. At 7:30 p.m., black smoke was visible from Prescott Park in Portsmouth, N.H., billowing from the dry dock and a Portsmouth fire truck was on standby at Peirce Island.
Just after 10 p.m., the fire aboard the submarine, docked at Dry Dock 2, went to four alarms and fire dispatchers were describing the fire as "moderate."
Numerous departments from local communities responded. At 10:45 p.m. a Portsmouth ambulance was called to Gate 1 of the shipyard, according to radio communications. Shortly afterwards, an engine and a foam trailer from Logan Airport in Boston, Mass., arrived at the scene. According to the Boston Sparks Association, a fire buff club founded in 1938, an engine from the submarine base in Groton, Conn. was also responding. Apparatus from Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts arrived shortly after 11 p.m.
Shipyard public affairs specialist Gary Hildreth said the fire is located in the forward compartment of the ship and all nonessential personnel were ordered to evacuate.
Update 0710 24 May: RDML Breckenridge is on scene, and reports the fire is out and confirms that two Ship's Force were among the 7 injuries. Here is his statement:
"Late yesterday afternoon, USS MIAMI experienced a fire in the submarine's forward compartment.Sounds like this was a very serious fire.
"Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Fire Department and Ship's force, along with mutual assistance from several other area fire departments, immediately responded and successfully extinguished the fire on USS MIAMI. I repeat, the fire is out.
"The fire and subsequent damage was limited to the forward compartment spaces only which includes crew living and command and control spaces. The nuclear propulsion spaces were physically isolated from the Forward Compartment early during initial response.
"The ship's reactor has been shut down for over 2 months and remained in a safe and stable condition throughout the event. The propulsion spaces remained habitable and were continuously manned through the night.
"There were no weapons on board in the torpedo room. The fire spread to spaces within the submarine that were difficult to access. The heat and smoke contained in these confined spaces made it challenging for fire-fighters to combat the blaze.
"I want to emphasize that the heroic actions of the firefighting teams averted what could have been a much more severe situation. As a result of their quick and effective response, the fire was contained and brought under control.
"We greatly appreciate the strong support received from our state and local partners who assisted us throughout this event.
"All of USS MIAMI's crew and the personnel supporting work and recovery efforts on the submarine are accounted for.
"Seven people were injured during the fire-fighting response. However, their injuries were minor in nature. The injured personnel included three Portsmouth Naval Shipyard fire-fighters; two ships force crew members; and two civilian fire-fighters providing support. These personnel were either treated on-scene or transported to a local medical facility for further treatment and all have been released. So all injured personnel have been released and are in good shape. There were no casualties in this fire.
"Again, the response of the shipyard and the community fire-fighters has been exceptional. Their efforts clearly minimized the severity of the event. They immediately took actions to stabilize the situation, protect the public, and limit the impact to the environment.
"So we are now moving forward with recovery actions. The shipyard remains open for normal business and the workforce will report to work as scheduled. A full investigation has begun to determine the cause of the fire. We will continue to provide updates later today as more information becomes available. For now I need to get back to my responsibilities in the command center."
Update 1645 24 May: Word on the street is 5' of water in the various FC bilges, 60% of the forward compartment "trashed". With that much water, let's hope the watertight seal for the battery well hatch held.
Update 2232 24 May: Here's a good summary of the events of the last day or so from the local news website.
Update 1715 26 May: The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Facebook page has a short video of the Miami in drydock shot after the fire was out on Thursday. And here's a piece from the Washington Post that discusses (in general terms) the issue of whether or not they'll attempt to repair the boat.
Update 2037 30 May: Here's an AP discussion on issues surrounding possible scrapping of the boat. And here's a message that got sent out forcewide about pictures from the boat:
After a walk-through of the MIAMI, it is clear that the interior of the ship is in a state where normal declassification of pictures and other images is not possible - they simply can't do that properly.As a result, any link to pictures purported to show the interior of the boat will be deleted from the comments.
Now that inspections are underway, under NO circumstances should any photos be sent on the UNCLASS network. Minimum classification is Confidential and should only be forwarded by SIPRNET or NR WAN. No exceptions without relief from a higher authority.
Please ensure this gets wide dissemination.
Update 1600 31 May: Word on the street is that the cause of the fire may have been something hot getting sucked up into a vacuum by a shipyard worker, which was then left on the boat at the end of the shift.
Update 0851 07 June: Here's an official release that confirms the rumor above, and puts the initial estimate of repair costs at $400 million.