UPDATE, 10:15 A.M.: Rear Admiral Rick Breckenridge said at a 10 a.m. press conference that he doesn't know if the USS Miami – valued at $900 million – will be salvageable after Wednesday night's fire.
He said an investigation has been launched into what caused the fire, but he expects that investigation to take a long time to complete. He wouldn't say if human error has been ruled out as a cause of the fire, or if the focus is on mechanical issues.
Breckenridge spent most of the press conference crediting scores of firefighters and shipyard personnel for extinguishing the blaze. Seven suffered minor injuries.
"The fire spread to spaces within the submarine that were difficult to access presenting a challenging situation for initial responders," the rear admiral said. "But they persevered in incredible heat and smoke conditions, demonstrating exceptional courage."
Personnel from the shipyard's fire department, U.S. Navy, and more than a dozen fire departments from as far away as Groton, Conn. battled the blaze.
"The heroic actions of this team of firefighters stabilized the situation, protecting the crew and shipyard workers," Breckenridge said. "There are a lot of heroes that worked together."
Video of the USS Miami in dry dock was posted to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard's Facebook page this morning.
Officials also said this morning that they will not identify the seven people who were injured fighting the submarine fire.
An earlier story follows:
was extinguished at 3:48 a.m. on Thursday, about 10 hours after it started.
Seven people were injured fighting the fire, but their injuries were minor, Rear Admiral Rick Breckenridge said Thursday morning. As commander of Submarine Group Two in Groton, Conn., the Miami is one of the submarines under his responsibility.
He said the injured personnel included three shipyard firefighters, two ship's force crew members, and two civilian firefighters providing support. He said "all injured personnel have been released and are in good shape. There were no casualties in this fire."
The next step, Breckenridge said, are recovery actions and an investigation into what caused the fire. The shipyard remains open for normal business, and the workforce will report to work as scheduled.
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 the initial response.
"The ship's reactor has been shut down for over two months and remained in a safe and stable condition throughout the event," Breckenridge said. "The propulsion spaces remained habitable and were continuously manned through the night."
He said the fire spread to spaces within the submarine that were difficult to access, and the heat and smoke in these confined spaces made it challenging for firefighters 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," Breckenridge said. "As a result of their quick and effective response, the fire was contained and brought under control."
He also thanked state and local partners who assisted the shipyard through this event.
"Again, the response of the shipyard and the community firefighters has been exceptional," Breckenridge said. "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."
Portsmouth Patch will have more on this story later this morning.