The USS Miami (SSN-755) was a Los Angeles-class submarine of the United States Navy. Ships and submarines are commonly named after cities and people, and the USS Miami submarine was the third vessel of the US Navy to be named after Miami, Florida. The USS Miami was also the forty-fourth Los Angeles-class (688) submarine and the fifth Improved Los Angeles-class (688I) submarine to be built and commissioned. The Electric Boat division of General Dynamics Corporation in Groton, Connecticut, won the contract on November 28, 1983. The keel was laid down on October 24, 1986, and USS Miami launched on November 12, 1988. She was commissioned on June 30, 1990 with Commander Thomas W Mader in command.

All that is fairly normal and mundane, but USS Miami was to have some much more “exciting” for lack of a better word, times in her future. USS Miami became the first submarine to conduct combat operations in two theaters since World War II, participating in Operation Desert Fox and Operation Allied Force. The submarine also became a movie star when she was featured in The Learning Channel (TLC) Extreme Machine episode on “Nuclear Submarines” but that was not even the craziest event in her history.

On May 23, 2012, at 5:41pm EDT, fire crews were called out with a report of a fire on the USS Miami. At the time, she was being overhauled at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine. That would seem like a fairly safe place to be, but I suppose that anytime work is being done, accidents could happen. On that day, USS Miami was in the second month of a scheduled 20-month maintenance cycle. That meant that the “Engineering Overhaul” she was undergoing was extensive. The fire was a major one that injured seven firefighters. In addition, one crew member suffered broken ribs when he fell through a hole left by removed deck plates during the fire. The fire took 12 hours to extinguish.

At first, the US Navy said that the blaze was caused by an industrial vacuum cleaner that was used “to clean worksites on the sub after shipyard workers’ shifts” that had sucked up a heat source that ignited debris inside the vacuum. However, on July 23, 2012, civilian painter and sandblaster Casey J Fury was indicted on two counts of arson after confessing to starting the fire. The reason for Fury’s actions really makes no sense to me. Fury said he lit rags on a berthing compartment’s top bunk so he could get out of work early…seriously!! That is insane, but then I guess any reason for arson has a degree of insanity attached to it. Still, this is the most bizarre reason I can think of. For Pete’s sake, tell your boss you need to be off early, or just quit. The consequences of this action were about to be heavy. On March 15, 2013, Fury was sentenced to more than 17 years in federal prison and ordered to pay $400 million in restitution. Casey Fury is still serving his 17-year prison sentence. He is scheduled to be released on August 4, 2027

For more than a year, the USS Miami’s fate was up in the air. Within a month of the fire, Maine Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe advocated for repairing the submarine. Navy leaders asked Congress to add $220 million to the operations and maintenance budget for emergent and unfunded ship repairs in July 2012. In August, the Navy decided to repair the boat for an estimated total cost of $450 million. They planned to reduce the repair cost by using spare parts from the recently decommissioned USS Memphis and by repairing rather than replacing damaged hull sections, as had been done with another Los Angeles-class boat, USS San Francisco. Unfortunately, these plans wouldn’t work for the USS Miami which was newer and so the parts and such were not available. In the end, the repairs would have cost an estimated $700 million.

Finally, on August 6, 2013, the US Navy announced its intention to decommission USS Miami, because the cost was more than it could afford in a time of budget cuts. For the USS Miami it was a sad defeat. The sub was officially decommissioned on March 28, 2014, to be scrapped by the Ship-Submarine Recycling Program.

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