Navy Investigating Shipyard ‘Hot Work’ Fire Aboard USS Gettysburg

July 9, 2021 1:58 PM
Guided-missile cruiser USS Gettysburg (CG 64), returns to Naval Station Mayport after a nine-month deployment to the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet on April 18, 2014. US Navy Photo

The Navy is investigating the cause of a maintenance yard fire aboard a guided-missile cruiser that sent four sailors to the hospital earlier this week.

A fire broke out aboard USS Gettysburg (CG-64) on Wednesday as a result of hot work performed on the ship during a maintenance period at the BAE Systems repair yard in Norfolk, Va., according to a service spokesperson.

“On July 7, ship’s force and the Norfolk Fire Department responded to a small fire in a machinery space on USS Gettysburg (CG-64). The fire was extinguished quickly after it was identified,” Douglas Denzine, a spokesperson for the Navy’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center (MARMC), told USNI News in a statement. “The cause of the fire is attributed to sparks from hot work. The ship sustained no damage and there is no impact to the ship’s mission or operations.”

The Navy takes special precautions to control the sparks that result from hot work — welding, flame cutting or riveting — to prevent fires.

MARMC is leading a command investigation into the fire, Denzine confirmed to USNI News.

“Four Sailors assigned to the Gettysburg were transferred to a local hospital and have been treated and released,” Denzine said.

A spokesperson for BAE Systems referred USNI News to MARMC.

The ship was the first East Coast cruiser to begin a phased modernization program in 2015. The ship was sidelined for four years while undergoing periodic maintenance availabilities. In 2018, BAE won a $146.3 million contract to, “upgrade the ship’s weapons and engineering equipment; support the installation of a new Aegis combat system, new communications suite and the Consolidated Afloat Network Enterprise Systems (CANES); and renovate the crew’s living spaces aboard the 27-year-old ship,” according to the company.

The fire aboard Gettysburg comes at the one-year mark of the fire that broke out aboard the former USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6), which burned for several days last July while in San Diego, Calif., for a maintenance period. The Navy ultimately decided to scrap Bonhomme Richard because the service did not believe it was worth the cost to restore the amphibious warship.

Ships undergoing maintenance are at a higher risk for fires due to welding work and fewer sailors aboard the ship, USNI News reported last year.

In 2018, a fire broke out aboard guided-missile destroyer USS Oscar Austin (DDG-79), which was also at BAE undergoing maintenance at the time. The ship is still undergoing repairs that are expected to stretch into next year, USNI News reported.

During its maintenance period following the 2017 deadly collisions, USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) also experienced multiple fire events while in the Ingalls Shipbuilding yard.

Mallory Shelbourne

Mallory Shelbourne

Mallory Shelbourne is a reporter for USNI News. She previously covered the Navy for Inside Defense and reported on politics for The Hill.
Follow @MalShelbourne

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