A Maine shipyard where an employee set fire to the USS Miami will get $54 million to scrap the nuclear submarine after the Navy decided the damage from the blaze was too great to justify repairs.
The Los Angeles-class attack submarine, which cost $900 million when it was commissioned in 1990, was set on fire May 23, 2012, while it was being refit in dry dock at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine. It was severely damaged.
The fire was ruled arson. Casey Fury, a 25-year-old civilian employee at the shipyard, confessed to setting the blaze in order to get out of work early. He was sentenced to 17 years in prison and, per federal statues, ordered to pay $400 million in restitution.
On Tuesday, Rear Adm. Rick Breckenridge, the Navy's director of undersea warfare, announced the "heart-wrenching" decision to scrap the Miami after the estimate for repairs ballooned to $700 million from an original figure of $450 million.
Beckenridge said the discovery of cracked pipes in areas not directly affected by the fire, along with the necessity of gutting and replacing all the equipment in the forward section of the sub, would have cost too much.
"We just don't have the money," he said. "It was a very, very challenging decision. It was heart-wrenching."
The Associated Press writes:
"U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King of Maine and Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire issued a statement blaming the decision to scrap the submarine on the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration.
" 'We are disappointed by the Navy's decision to discontinue repairs to the USS Miami. Inactivating the Miami will mean a loss to our nuclear submarine fleet — yet another unfortunate consequence of the across-the-board cuts known as sequestration. We will continue to work together to find a responsible budget solution that replaces sequestration,' they said.
"The Navy announced last summer that it intended to repair the Miami with a goal of returning it to service in 2015. The Navy said it would be cost-effective because the 23-year-old submarine could serve another 10 years."