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Fire Prompts Evacuation of Carrier USS Abraham Lincoln

Abraham lincoln fire drill
Sailors practice evacuating USS Abraham Lincoln during a fire drill at Naval Air Station North Island, March 2023 (USN file image)

Published Jun 29, 2023 7:27 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Wednesday, a fire broke out in a generator room aboard the carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, prompting the evacuation of all nonessential crewmembers. 

Lincoln has been at Air Station North Island in San Diego since August 2022, when she returned from a seven-month deployment across the Pacific. While in port, she is undergoing a maintenance availability. 

At about 1400 hours on Wednesday, the emergency response team on Abraham Lincoln got a call reporting an electrical fire in the forward emergency generator compartment. They responded to the scene, secured power to the compartment and safely extinguished the fire within about 10 minutes' time, according Cmrd. Zachary Harrell, a spokesperson for Naval Air Forces. 

As a precautionary measure, non-essential sailors briefly evacuated from the ship. No injuries were reported, and the damage to the generator compartment is being assessed. The Navy does not suspect that the fire was intentionally started. 

Pierside maintenance periods have historically been a vulnerable time for fire hazards aboard U.S. Navy warships: the amphib USS Bonhomme Richard was destroyed by fire in July 2020, and the sub USS Miami in 2012, both allegedly caused by a combination of arson and complacency. Heightened risk factors during repairs - like active hot work, deactivated firefighting systems, work debris in compartments, and blocked-open hatches - combine with human-factor changes during periods alongside. 

After the Bonhomme Richard fire, the Navy concluded that its maintenance organization had not absorbed lessons-learned from previous fire incidents, and corrective actions were "inconsistently implemented or failed to be implemented." Its leadership has worked to make substantial changes in the years since, including clarifying the chain of command for incident-response when ships are moored at a naval base. 

Last year, USS Abraham Lincoln became the first carrier ever to deploy with the F-35C stealth fighter. The Navy's newest carrier, USS Ford, is not yet capable of carrying the F-35 and is further down the list for receiving a retrofit.