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Navy: $450M to fix fire-damaged submarine

Aug. 22, 2012 - 03:34PM   |   Last Updated: Aug. 22, 2012 - 03:34PM  |  
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The submarine Miami, heavily damaged by an arsonist in May while drydocked at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, will cost about $450 million to be fixed and put back into service, the U.S. Navy said Wednesday.

The figure is about $50 million higher than the initial repair estimates, and the service admits it could change as much as an additional $45 million, or 10 percent.

The fire struck the nuclear-powered attack submarine shortly after the daytime work shift ended on May 23 at the shipyard in Kittery, Maine. Firefighters from as far away as Boston and Connecticut battled the blaze throughout the night and into the next morning.

The blaze was confined to the forward areas of the submarine and did not affect the nuclear reactor, the Navy said. But temperatures inside the forward hull reached extreme levels, and the lower portions of the bow section were flooded by firefighters.

The fire heavily damaged or destroyed the submarine's control room, combat systems and torpedo room.

Casey James Fury, a civilian worker at the shipyard, is accused of setting the fire and of lighting a smaller fire outside the submarine on June 16. He remains in jail, awaiting trial.

Two investigations into the fire continue, and investigators are to issue their reports in September.

The 22-year-old Miami was, at the time of the fire, about two months into a planned 20-month overhaul at the shipyard. The Navy had planned to decommission the boat in 2020 after 30 years of service, but if the fire repairs are completed at the end of April 2015, it is expected to serve another decade, or enough for five full-length deployments.

Funding for the repairs is to come in several increments. The service is asking to reprogram $100 million to begin planning work, and is asking for $150 million in the 2013 budget.

Here is the full Navy statement on the cost of the repairs, released Aug. 22 by the Naval Sea Systems Command:

"The Navy's revised cost estimate to restore USS Miami (SSN 755) is approximately $450 million, with an estimated date of completion for the repairs of April 30, 2015. The estimate includes 10 percent variability due to the unique nature of the repair and the cost impacts of shifting the planned maintenance availabilities of other ships and submarines.

"Navy is committed to delivering the submarine back to the fleet with no operational limitations. Once returned to service, Miami will serve for an additional 10 years with five planned full-length deployments, ready to respond to any combatant commander tasking.

"The resources and workforce to support the repair effort are expected to come from the Portsmouth Naval shipyard, private sector, as well as the local New Hampshire and Maine trades workforce.

"The Navy expects to award an advanced planning contract in September to support engineering efforts to guide the accomplishment of repairs and procure repair material, followed by the repair contract in late spring 2013.

"Since June, the Navy has continued its engineered overhaul work in areas unaffected by the May 23 fire; cleaning and ripping out areas affected by fire and water damage; completing the technical assessment of the damage; developing a strategy for completing repair; and refining the cost estimate.

"A lessons-learned oversight board composed of three-star flag officers from Naval Sea Systems Command, Commander Naval Installations Command and Commander Submarine Forces was formed in July 2012 to ensure that all valuable issues and lessons are identified and corrective actions are developed."

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