Norfolk, Va. – The submarine USS Miami, which was heavily damaged last year by an arsonist, will be scrapped instead of repaired as the Navy originally planned.
The Navy last year estimated that repairs to the Los Angeles-class submarine would cost at least $450 million, and at least $94 million has been spent to plan the repair work, according to Defense News.
That cost estimate rose even higher after a comprehensive damage assessment conducted over the past year and the Navy decided the price was too high in an era of forced budget cuts.
Built at the General Dynamics Electric Boat shipyard in Groton, Conn., the Miami was commissioned in June 1990 and had been expected to serve for 30 years.
The Miami was devastated by a fire that broke out late in the work day on May 23, 2012, while the submarine was in dry dock at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine. Casey James Fury, 24, a civilian painter and sand blaster at the shipyard, was arrested after a three-week investigation and charged with arson. On Nov. 8 he pleaded guilty to the May 23 fire, and to a smaller fire set outside the submarine on June 16. He was sentenced on March 14 to more than 17 years in federal prison.
He set the May 23 fire, he told authorities, because he was having an anxiety attack, wanted to leave work and had already used up his sick leave.
The blaze burned for about 12 hours inside the submarine, which was only a few weeks into a planned 20-month overhaul. Fire teams from as far away as Boston and Connecticut battled intense fires throughout the night and into the next morning. The conflagration heavily damaged or destroyed the submarine’s control room, combat systems and torpedo room.
Navy officials have repeatedly said the ship’s nuclear reactor was not threatened by the inferno. But temperatures inside the forward hull reached extreme levels and the lower portions of the bow section were flooded by firefighters.
Although many observers thought the damage would be fatal to the submarine, the Navy was determined to repair the ship. Privately, officials declared their resolve not to let an arsonist destroy a sophisticated and powerful warship.