Damage Assessment of USS Miami Fire Underway

Assessment of the extent of damages onboard the USS Miami nuclear submarine (SSN 755) which caught on fire on Wednesday night, while docked at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Maine, is underway.

Preliminary results indicate that the fire did not damage the submarine’s nuclear propulsion system, however, as confirmed by the officials, torpedo room, forward compartments, command and control, have been considerably damaged.

Even though certain equipment had been removed prior to the fire for retrofit purposes, since USS Miami came to Portsmouth in March for a major overhaul, a question is being raised whether the repairs will be cost effective.

“The duration of the fire suggests extensive damage that could render the vessel useless. These submarines were designed decades ago. So they’re no longer state of the art,” said Loren Thompson, defense analyst at the Arlington, Va.-based Lexington Institute, the Associated Press cited.

Despite high costs of reconstruction, building of a new attack submarine could cost about $2.6 billion apiece, as it is the case with U.S. Navy’s newest attack submarines, the Virginia-class.

The final damage report is yet to be delivered, when more information will be known on whether the submarine will be scraped or not.

The fire, that broke out on May 23, did not compromise the Los Angeles class submarine’s nuclear reactor, since firefighters isolated the flames so they would not spread to nuclear propulsion, avoiding a big catastrophe.

Accordingly, the fire broke out on the “forward compartment” nevertheless, the cause of the fire still needs to be established.

The sub’s crew was evacuated immediately, in which process two crew members, three shipyard firefighters and two civilian firefighters were hurt, sustaining minor injuries.


Naval Today Staff , May 28, 2012