Navy charges shipyard worker with arson in $400M fire on USS Miami
Portland Press Herald
PORTLAND, Maine — A civilian employee at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard has been charged with intentionally setting the fire that did $400 million in damage to the nuclear submarine USS Miami May 23.
Investigators with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service filed papers in U.S. District Court in Portland Monday charging Casey James Fury, 24, of Portsmouth, N.H. with two counts of arson. Fury had been working in the areas where both fires started.
Fury initially denied any involvement in the fires, but later admitted setting a small fire June 16 that was quickly extinguished. He said he started that fire after becoming anxious over a texting exchange with his former girlfriend and that he wanted to leave work, the court papers said.
During a polygraph exam, Fury also admitted to setting the May 23 fire by igniting rags in a state room, the court papers say.
Fury had been working to strip paint from the forward area of the submarine just before the fire broke out there, the court papers say. Fury admitted to starting the fire using rags.
The fire burned for almost 12 hours before shipyard firefighters and fire departments from three states were able to bring it under control. Nobody died but there were minor injuries.
The Navy is in the process of determining whether to repair the submarine or scrap it.
Fury said he was suffering from anxiety the night he set the fire, a condition for which he takes several medications. He also takes medication for depression and insomnia. A few days after the June fire, Fury checked himself in to an in-patient mental health hospital for two days.
The USS Miami is a Los Angeles-class attack submarine that cost $900 million to build, was commissioned in 1990 and was in the Kittery shipyard for an overhaul to extend its lifespan.
Investigators initially said they believed that smoldering material had been sucked into a vacuum cleaner where it eventually ignited.
If convicted, Fury could face life in prison and be ordered to pay restitution, according to a statement by the U.S. Attorney for the District of Maine, Thomas Delahanty II.
Fury was scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Portland later Monday.