After firefighters got the situation on the Bonhomme Richard under control last week, the Navy issued a message calling for a variety of readiness assessments from all of its ships and submarines, as well as ordering the crews of those ships to perform various safety inspections and exercises, including major firefighting drills. The fires onboard the USS Kearsarge and the future USS John F. Kennedy, which occurred on July 17 and July 20, respectively, no doubt further underscored the desire for this fleet-wide wellness check of sorts.
The incident aboard the Kearsarge, which is undergoing maintenance at the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in Norfolk, Virginia, was minor. “The fire was quickly extinguished by the fire watch and resulted in minimal damage,” Colleen O’Rourke, a spokesperson for Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), told USNI News on July 20.
Nevertheless, the Navy told the yard, which is also presently serving a number of the service’s other major surface ships, to halt work pending various safety reviews. General Dynamics NASSOC-Norfolk completed those requirements to resume regular operations today.
“To remove the stop-work order, General Dynamics NASSCO-Norfolk was required to validate proper housekeeping and cleanliness, removal of unnecessary clutter and ensure unrestricted access to firefighting and damage control equipment,” Rory O’Connor, another NAVSEA spokesperson, told USNI News on July 22. “Secondly, NASSCO employees and subcontractors supporting GD-NASSCO-Norfolk were required to complete fire and general safety training. Compliance with these actions is necessary to ensure established procedures and protocols are adhered to in order to prevent any unforeseen incidents or fires. Navy officials verified that these actions are complete, and as such, have lifted the stop-work order.”
This update about the situation at the shipyard in Norfolk came just a day after the announcement of the fire on the future John F. Kennedy, which is in the latter stages of construction at Newport News Shipbuilding’s yard in the Virginia city of the same name. “Thankfully, no one was injured. Our shipbuilders and firefighters responded swiftly, and the fire was extinguished quickly,” Newport News Shipbuilding President Jennifer Boykin wrote in a post on Facebook.
“Although the fire was put out quickly, we did experience heavy smoke and immediately evacuated the entire ship,” she continued. “The damage was contained to the compartment where the fire occurred, and we are investigating the cause.”