Saturday, May 18, 2013
By David Hench firstname.lastname@example.org
KITTERY — Workers doused a small fire Monday on the USS Miami, the nuclear-powered submarine that sustained $400 million worth of damage from arson last May.
Grit from sandblasting in the forward control room of the submarine damaged a temporary light fixture, which caused the fire, according to a statement from the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
This fire happened about 2 p.m. and was put out quickly with a carbon dioxide extinguisher, said a statement from Deb White, spokeswoman for the shipyard, where the USS Miami is being overhauled. That part of the ship was evacuated as a precaution.
Nobody was injured.
On May 23, the USS Miami was set on fire by Casey Fury, who was a worker at the shipyard.
Fury, 25, pleaded guilty to arson and was sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court in Portland to more than 17 years in prison and ordered to pay $400 million in restitution.
The fire burned for 10 hours and led base commanders to summon firefighters and specialized equipment from across New England. There was some question about whether the sub could be repaired or would have to be scrapped.
An extensive analysis determined that the sub could be saved and shipyard workers could do some of the repairs, but automatic federal spending cuts that took effect March 1 have left no money for the work.
The Navy's commitment to repairing the submarine is now wavering, according to experts.
The Associated Press reported that repairs have been postponed and the Navy is rethinking its maintenance and repair budget. Rear Adm. Rick Breckenridge, commander of Submarine Group Two in Groton, Conn., has said the Navy must weigh competing priorities.
The shipyard's 4,700 civilian workers will each take 22 days off without pay between April and Sept. 30 under the forced federal budget cuts. Workers plan to rally Wednesday against the mandatory cuts.
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