Navy Still Assessing Damage on DDG Oscar Austin Two Months After Yard Fire

January 29, 2019 12:23 PM
Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Oscar Austin (DDG-79) transits the Arctic Circle Sept. 5, 2017. US Navy PhotoThe Navy still doesn’t know how badly a November fire damaged guided-missile destroyer USS Oscar Austin (DDG-79) while it was undergoing a $41.6 million modernization.

The Navy still doesn’t know how badly a November fire damaged guided-missile destroyer USS Oscar Austin (DDG-79) while the ship was in a yard for a $41.6-million modernization period.

The year-long upgrade at BAE Systems Norfolk Ship Repair yard in Virginia was initially expected to finish in February, according to the company and the Navy. However, more than two months after the fire, the incident is still being investigated by U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command. The Navy has yet to release estimates on the cost or time required to repair the fire damage.

Work on Oscar Austin paused after an electrical fire occurred at about 8 p.m. on Nov. 10, according to a Norfolk Fire Marshal’s incident report obtained by USNI News. When Norfolk Fire Department crews arrived on the scene, Navy crew were already fighting the fire.

“They advised they had an electrical fire in a forward space and ships force damage control teams were engaged with fighting the fire. They also had a damage control element from the USS Cole on board assisting with their efforts, in total about 30 personnel,” the Norfolk Fire Marshal’s incident report states.

Crew members from Oscar Austin and USS Cole (DDG-67) had the fire well under control when Norfolk firefighters arrived at the shipyard. Cole is undergoing its own $36.6-million upgrade period and is berthed nearby at BAE’s yard.

Norfolk Fire Department crews assisted the Navy personnel in ensuring there were no remaining hotspots and clearing smoke from the ship’s spaces. One sailor was transported by ambulance to a nearby hospital for treatment and was later released, according to the Norfolk Fire Department and the Navy.

By 10:10 p.m., the ship was secured and the Norfolk Fire Department left the scene.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer was set to receive an Aegis Combat System Baseline 9 upgrade. This upgrade would allow the ship to handle both ballistic missile and traditional air warfare threats at the same time.

The Navy’s contract with BAE included other modernization options, which, if exercised, would bring the total value of upgrading Oscar Austin to $117.1 million, according to a statement previously released by the company. BAE officials referred questions about the fire to the Navy.

The new Baseline 9 upgrade had not been installed aboard Oscar Austin when the fire occurred, but existing hardware needed to for the update may have been severely damaged by the fire or fire control efforts, according to Navy and defense contractor officials.

The following is the BAE Systems Norfolk Ship Repair contract award to upgrade USS Oscar Austin (DDG-79)

FROM CONTRACT AWARD: BAE Systems Norfolk Ship Repair, Norfolk, Virginia, was awarded a $41,654,174 firm-fixed-price contract for the execution of USS Oscar Austin (DDG-79) fiscal 2018 depot modernization period. This availability will include a combination of maintenance, modernization, and repair of USS Oscar Austin. This is a long-term availability and was competed on a coast-wide (East and Gulf coast) basis without limiting the place of performance to the vessel’s homeport. BAE will provide the facilities and human resources capable of completing, coordinating, and integrating multiple areas of ship maintenance, repair, and modernization. This contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $117,186,557. Work will be performed in Norfolk, Virginia, and is expected to be completed by February 2019. Fiscal 2018 other procurement (Navy); and fiscal 2018 operations and maintenance (Navy) funding in the amount of $41,654,174 will be obligated at time of award. Fiscal 2018 operations and maintenance (Navy) funds in the amount of $14,020,836 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured using full and open competition via the Federal Business Opportunities website with two offers were received in response to solicitation number N00024-17-R-4428. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, District of Columbia, is the contracting activity (N00024-18-C-4428). (Awarded on Dec. 22, 2017)

Ben Werner

Ben Werner

Ben Werner is a staff writer for USNI News. He has worked as a freelance writer in Busan, South Korea, and as a staff writer covering education and publicly traded companies for The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va., The State newspaper in Columbia, S.C., Savannah Morning News in Savannah, Ga., and Baltimore Business Journal. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland and a master’s degree from New York University.

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