Nuclear sub catches fire at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard
Smoke rises from a Portsmouth Naval Shipyard dry dock Wednesday night.Elizabeth Dinan photo
By Joey Crestajcresta@seacoastonline.com
May 23, 2012
KITTERY, Maine — Multiple firefighters were injured while battling a fire aboard the USS Miami nuclear-powered attack submarine Wednesday evening at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, according to a shipyard and public safety officials.
Firefighters were initially called to the Shipyard just before 6 p.m. for a report of a fire on a ship in dry dock. Fire crews encountered heavy smoke and fire, and two firefighters were taken from the scene with injuries, the officials said, adding two more firefighters were later taken from the scene for treatment.
Shipyard public affairs specialist Gary Hildreth said the fire is located in the forward compartment of the ship and all nonessential personnel were ordered to evacuate.
The submarine's reactor was not operating at the time the fire started and was not affected by the blaze, shipyard spokeswoman Bridget Church said.
Church said state, local and federal authorities have been alerted to the situation. She could not say just before 9 p.m. whether the fire was still burning.
One of the injured firefighters was treated and released at the shipyard, officials said. The other three injured firefighters were taken to a local medical facility, and all three were treated and released, officials said.
Kittery Police Chief Paul Callaghan said the Police Department has not received any requests from the shipyard to evacuate residents living in the area. He said the fire aboard the USS Miami is not posing a danger to the general public.
Callaghan said Kittery firefighters are on standby at the shipyard's fire station.
The USS Miami (SSN 755) and her crew of 13 officers and 120 enlisted personnel arrived at the Navy Yard on March 1 to undergo maintenance work and system upgrades.
It is the third vessel named for the city of Miami and the fifth so-called improved Los Angeles-class nuclear-powered submarine, according to the Navy. The Miami was commissioned June 30, 1990, and its home port is Groton, Conn.
The submarine's commanding officer is Commander Roger E. Meyer, who assumed command on Sept. 20, 2010. The Miami's host community is Sanford.
As of 7:30 p.m., black smoke visible from Prescott Park in Portsmouth, N.H., continued to billow from the dry dock. A Portsmouth fire truck was on standby at Peirce Island.
Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.