Seven Injured in Nuclear Submarine Fire [VIDEO]

The blaze broke out Wednesday at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

KITTERY, Maine – Seven people were injured in a fire on a nuclear submarine at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard on Wednesday night.

The fire occurred in a forward compartment of the USS Miami SSN 755 that is primarily used for living areas and command and control spaces. The ship's reactor was not operating at the time and was reportedly not affected. Navy officials say it's too soon to tell if the $900 million submarine will be salvageable.

The cause of the fire remains unknown. An investigation into the cause has been launched, but is expected to take a long time to complete. Officials aren't saying if human error has been ruled out or if the focus is on mechanical issues.

The fire was reported at 5:41 p.m. Wednesday, , according to the shipyard. The nuclear propulsion spaces were physically isolated early in the event from the forward compartment fire and remained safe and stable throughout the event.

Capt. Bryant Fuller, the shipyard's commander, said there were no weapons on board, and all personnel were accounted for.

Seven people were injured in the blaze, according to the shipyard, including three shipyard firefighters, two ship's force crew members, and two civilian firefighters providing support. All seven were treated and released and were said to be doing well. Their names are not being released.

Firefighters from numerous Seacoast communities, including Portsmouth, Kittery, York, South Berwick, Somersworth, Rollinsford, Rye and New Castle, provided mutual aid. An engine and foam truck were requested from Logan Airport in Boston. State, local and federal authorities were also notified.

The shipyard gates remained open throughout the ordeal, and the workforce is expected to report to work as scheduled.

According to the shipyard's website, the USS Miami arrived here on March 1 for maintenance work and system upgrades. It has a crew of 13 officers and 120 enlisted personnel. The website says the Miami is the third Navy ship named for the city of Miami and the fifth "Improved" Los Angeles-class nuclear-powered submarine. Assigned to the Atlantic Fleet, the Miami was commissioned on June 30, 1990, and its home port is Groton, Conn.

Navy Wife May 24, 2012 at 11:45 AM
They did react, as did the other ships present.
Bernard Jenkins May 24, 2012 at 01:09 PM
I was on subs in the 60's. The crews drill almost every day for all sorts of problems. Lets not be hasty to judge until we know what happened. B. Jenkins MMC (SS)
HubbaBubba3167 May 24, 2012 at 02:10 PM
Lets blame Obama. Oh wait he'll only blame Bush. More cuts to the Military. The fine men/women of our military services will again be asked to do more with less. We will start to see more incidences like these as our Military budget is cut. We will start to look more like the Soviet Navy as China modernizes its military on our dollars. Thank god there were no serious injuries. As a former fire fighter I know that ship board fires can be extremely hot stubborn fires in confined space, how ever having never fought one, can maybe a Navy Veteran Shipboard FF explain why it took so long to extinguish and how did it get so out of control being that the crew was on board and I know that they regularly train for such incidents? God Bless The United States Of America, God Bless The United States Navy, and Other Military Services and all the Sailors, Soldiers, Marines, Airmen, and Coast Gaurdsmen!
Steve May 24, 2012 at 02:12 PM
In the shipyard for maintenance, lots of welding and burning going on, hot slag got into something,smoldered and burned.
William Graham May 24, 2012 at 02:22 PM
chances are the crew was not onboard when the fire started if it was there for upgrades. That may have a lot to do with why it took so long for the fire to be put out but none of us will ever really know unless we have a friend who is a sailor on that boat.
Paul P May 24, 2012 at 03:03 PM
This was not Kittery, Maine. It was in Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Marc Fortier (Editor) May 24, 2012 at 03:24 PM
Paul P -- though the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard has a Portsmouth address, it's located in Kittery, Maine, across the Piscataqua River from Portsmouth.
Bob May 24, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Seems to be a lot of speculations as to what happened here. The facts will never truly come out because the military is great at secrets. I know cause I am in the AF. The report did a good job at not speculating as to the cause of the fire but others here want to tell us that it was this or that. Bottom line is, we might never know. And if the sub was in dry dock then there is no crew so the response time is longer then if they were readily available.
Jaydee1958 May 24, 2012 at 03:32 PM
Shipboard fires on Naval Vessels in the undergoing overhaul happen all the time. This one sounds a bit more severe. "Something" else is NOT being report if it took 10hrs to put out. Only one comparable was the USS Forrestal in 1967. THe Forrestal had rockets, bombs and jets exploe all over the place.
Jaydee1958 May 24, 2012 at 03:34 PM
Work on naval vessels in the shipyard goes on 24/7.
quasimodo May 24, 2012 at 03:44 PM
$900 million? $1.8 Billion would be more accurate.
THE FABULOUS JOHNNY G. May 24, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Rich DiPentima May 24, 2012 at 04:36 PM
The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is actually in Kittery, Maine. I live in Portsmouth and vsit the shipyard often.
PC May 24, 2012 at 05:07 PM
My father was also on subs in the 60's. I'm proud of the service he gave to our country. Submarine life wasn't the easiest, but was important.
pete suffield May 24, 2012 at 06:31 PM
We as a nation are very fortunate that our Navy has not ever had a nuclear mishap on board ship while at sea. But please make no mistake people....accidents and fires do happen all the time in the Navy especially while at sea. Yes, there have even been fires within the torpedo rooms even on nuclear attack subs. These fires, especially accute with subs back in the 1960s due to the type of engines used on torpedos that were being used at the time. It is commonly believed, that it was one of these types of fires down in the forward torpedo room, in which routine maintenance was may have been being conduct on board the Thresher Shark when it went down in 1968.
homer simpson May 24, 2012 at 06:41 PM
where in the hell was security?
Madeline Melvin May 24, 2012 at 07:01 PM
I'm just glad no one was seriously hurt or killed.
Navy Wife May 24, 2012 at 08:29 PM
the gates to access the base are in Kittery. It is on an island right in between ME and NH, and has been a debate for years. They call it Portsmouth but is Kittery.
Navy Wife May 24, 2012 at 08:32 PM
There is always a section on duty when it comes to a Nuke sub. Long watch hours. They did call in all of the crew on another boat to help. The ones from the other ship that were on duty were there in minutes before the fire department.
VED from VICTORIA INSTITUTONS May 24, 2012 at 08:40 PM
An old prediction: Search in Google Books for these lines: strange happenings of technological failures, inefficiency, conflict, hatred,
donald flanagan May 24, 2012 at 11:29 PM
To all you nosy civilians out there. What goes on in the military is none of your business. You want to be on the inside, join one of the services. Stop complaining and add your help. A lot goes on in all branches that even those in those branches don't know about. It all boils down to "a need to know". And all you complainers have NO need to know.
Jim Monahan May 24, 2012 at 11:37 PM
As a retired "Bubblehead" and Chief of the Boat (COB) who served on nuke boats for over 20 years, I can tell you fires were a big fear. Rather than trash the reporters and all those supposedly in the know, lets be thankful nobody died. Miami can be replaced; the lives of crewman cannot. Jim in Fredericksburg, VA
Jaydee1958 May 25, 2012 at 12:04 AM
Evening. You responded to my entry about the fire and the Forrestal. How does my 20 years of service sound to you? Does that qualify as being "knowledgeable" in your book?
Mario Balzic May 25, 2012 at 04:09 PM
Sorry, but it was USS Thresher, SSN593, and it sank 10 APR 1963, with a loss of all hands because of a flooding casualty off the New England coast. The sounds it made are on tape made by a surface ship that accompanied the Thresher on sea trials. The other submarine lost was the USS Scorpion, SSN589, lost at sea 5 JUN 1968, for reasons unknown. It is suspected Scorpion had a fire in the torpedo room. There is evidence to indicate a torpedo had a "hot run" which is where the engine starts before the torpedo is ejected from the tube. It may have started in the torpedo room itself. Either way, the sub made a 180 degree U turn which is unexplained. One possible reason was to deactivate the warhead using the anti-turnback safety interlock which kills a torpedo which turns back looking for a target. The remains of both have been found using submersibles. Samples from both sites from the bottom and surrounding water indicate the reactors are not leaking any radioactive material. I was stationed on the USS Permit, SSN594, the sister ship to the Thresher. Permit was used as a test platform in the Thresher accident analysis since it was virtually identical in construction. The end result was the "SUBSAFE" program, which made changes to operating procedures and construction in all submarines to improve the ability to combat a flooding casualty.
John Rose May 25, 2012 at 09:42 PM
The Scopion was sunk by a Russian topedo, Read the book Scorpion Down by Ed Offley it explains in great detail what happened to her and her crew. If you have ever seen pics of her finale resting place you will notice she is almost intact givin her depth, which means she was flooded by the time she got to her crush depth, unlike the Threasher which is in peices from imploding. Heres a question? if a torpedo exploded in the bow why is it intact ?, The Kursk was a double hulled sub and when a torpedo exploded( setting off others ) most of the bow was gone. the Scorpion was not a double hulled boat to my knowledge and the only damage is from were she hit the bottom and telesoped in on herself which probably blew the forward hatches giving the apperance of an explosion. Read the book , its not entertaining, its an eye opener.
edward clark May 26, 2012 at 02:48 PM
things happen .must say crew must feel horrible ,thanks for servtce ed clark
Brian St. Onge May 26, 2012 at 04:56 PM
Seeing as how all taxpayers foot the bill for the military, all of us have a damn good reason to know what goes on other than being privy to classified information.
Mario Balzic May 27, 2012 at 12:31 AM
The book you reference is all SPECULATION. There is NO evidence to indicate there was an explosion from an external source such as a torpedo. As for the telescoping, that WILL happen most likely where the reactor compartment meets the operations compartment and the diameter of the pressure hull changes. The transition piece is the weakest part of the pressure hull and coincidentally, under the most stress as the boat dives deeper. The reason why Thresher did not telescope is because it flooded first in the place most likely TO telescope, the engineering spaces. The remaining compartments forward of the reactor DID implode as the internal bulkheads failed. The pressure hull can take twice as much pressure before it fails than an interior watertight bulkhead. On Thresher, the pressure hull was about 3 inches thick, with the interior bulkheads only half that, or 1.5" thick. That means that if the pressure hull fails, the internal bulkheads will follow almost immediately. By the way, the torpedo room in Scorpion is amidships with the tubes extending out each side at a 20 degree angle, just below the sail. The bow compartment is all berthing and storage space and the sonar dome sticks out in front covered with a fiberglass shell. If there was an internal explosion in the torpedo room, it would have been literally in the middle of the boat, right on top of the compartment where the battery is located. The book you reference is wrong on SO many counts...
Sub Mariner May 30, 2012 at 01:41 PM
Funny things is the military members also fit this bill you talk of.
Sub Mariner May 30, 2012 at 01:48 PM
Jaydee, No one died unlike the Forrestal so I wouldn't classify it as more severe. Reported temps of the hull were between 400-500 degress. Imagine how hot it was inside and thats probably why it was difficult to extinguish.


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