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Fire Put Out Aboard Amphib at Ingalls Shipbuilding

USS Bougainville
The bow of the future USS Bougainville (Ingalls)

Published Jul 3, 2023 11:48 PM by The Maritime Executive

Last Thursday, a fire broke out aboard a newbuild U.S. Navy amphib under construction at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Mississippi, according to the shipyard.  

According to HII Ingalls, a fire broke out late Thursday aboard the future USS Bougainville, an America-class amphib laid down in 2019. The fire originated in the ship's superstructure, and the yard's fire and safety teams responded to the scene quickly. The blaze was put out, and two workers were briefly treated at the hospital for smoke inhalation. Both were released on the same day. Four others had less serious symptoms of smoke inhalation and were treated on scene, and there were no other injuries, an Ingalls spokesperson said. 

The damage appears to have been limited to a small number of compartments immediately affected by the fire. The rest of the ship and the yard were unharmed, according to Ingalls. 

The fire is believed to have been sparked by hot work, and the exact details are under investigation by the Navy and the shipbuilder. 

The $$3 billion vessel is due for delivery next year. It was not immediately clear whether the fire would have an impact on the timeline. 

“It’s important to note that Ingalls Shipbuilding has a fully functional fire department and emergency responders on-site,” yard spokesperson Kimberly Aguillard told local media. “It is part of the shipyard’s commitment to ensuring we are prepared for any emergency."

The circumstances and the outcome were different than the massive fire aboard the amphib USS Bonhomme Richard at Naval Base San Diego in 2020. Bonhomme Richard was a Wasp-class amphib, a progenitor of Bougainville's America-class design, but the similarities end there. The firefighting teams on Bonhomme Richard were a mix of civilian and Navy crews; the blaze started in a lower deck and burned up through the superstructure; and the fire ultimately consumed much of the interior, rendering the vessel a total loss. An after-accident investigation blamed the ship's command, the naval base and the head of Naval Surface Force Pacific Fleet for inadequate preparedness.