New Information Released on Cause of Sub Fire
It caused $400 million in damage to the USS Miami.
A fire aboard a nuclear submarine at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard that injured seven people and caused $400 million in damage started when a vacuum sucked up a "heat source," officials announced today.
The "heat source," which officials did not identify, ignited debris in the vacuum. The vacuum, used for regular cleaning aboard the sub, had been turned off before the fire started, officials said.
"Specific details and subsequent damage assessment are still being evaluated as part of on-going investigations and will be released at a later date," shipyard officials said today in a news release, which can be found below:
On May 23, 2012, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard responded to a fire onboard USS Miami (SSN 755). The fire was extinguished at approximately 3:30 a.m. Thursday, May 24, 2012, by the ship’s crew, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard fire
department personnel and the significant efforts of a large number of local and out of state fire departments.
The fire impacted the forward compartment of the submarine which includes crew living, command and control spaces and torpedo room. Miami’s nuclear propulsion spaces were not affected by the fire. The ship’s nuclear propulsion plant was not operating at the time and the plant had been shut down for over two months. Nuclear propulsion spaces were isolated from the forward compartment fire early and spaces remained habitable, manned and in a safe and stable condition throughout the entire event. There were no torpedoes or other weapons on-board the submarine.
The Navy is conducting formal Judge Advocate General Manual (JAGMAN) and Safety investigations to address lessons learned, and corrective actions to preclude recurrence. These investigations are still on-going and initial reports of their conclusions and recommendations are expected in the next two weeks.
Preliminary findings indicate the fire started in a vacuum cleaner used to clean worksites at end of shift, and stored in an unoccupied space. The style vacuum used was one you would find in a typical shop environment.
The vacuums were not plugged in and there was no apparent defect that would have caused the vacuums to ignite. Preliminary investigations indicate that the fire started with a heat source being vacuumed up and igniting the debris in the vacuum cleaner. Specific details and subsequent damage assessment are still being evaluated as part of on-going investigations and will be released at a later date.
All public shipyards have been directed to empty industrial style shop vacuum cleaners each shift or remove them from the ship. Additional inspections of ships have also been conducted for fire safety and fire fighting response with special attention on temporary services and the stowage of combustible materials on board. All industrial facilities and ships use some type of shop style vacuum. NAVSEA is reviewing all models of vacuum cleaners currently used shipboard and will issue specific direction on what models are authorized for use by the end of this month.
The Navy has developed an initial rough repair cost estimate of $400 million, plus approximately 10 percent for the secondary effects (such as disruption to other planned work across all Naval Shipyards, and the potential need to contract work to the private sector). This estimate was developed so that funding can be identified to support the repairs, which would be accomplished at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. This estimate will be refined as more data is gathered and testing completed. The average cost of a Los Angeles class submarine, adjusted for inflation, is $1.5B (FY12).
Navy engineers are conducting a full technical assessment including internal and external hull surveys and damage assessments to develop a detailed cost estimate to restore the forward end compartment.
MIAMI was scheduled for a 20 month Engineered Overhaul at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. We are currently working to define the schedule to put the MIAMI back in service.
Portsmouth Naval Shipyard remains a vital element of the Navy’s submarine maintenance industrial base. The men and women of Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, a field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command, are committed to maximizing the material readiness of the fleet by delivering on-time, affordable quality, safely achieved.
- PNSY Officials: Vacuum Cleaner Caused USS Miami Fire
- Pingree Estimates USS Miami Damage at $400 Million
- USS Miami's Future Impacts Navy Sub Fleet
- VIDEO: Ayotte Supports 'Full Investigation' into USS Miami Fire
- Commander: USS Miami 'Will Go to Sea Again'
- Navy Investigators Survey USS Miami Damage
- Seven Injured in Nuclear Submarine Fire [VIDEO]