KITTERY, Maine — U.S. Sen. Susan Collins announced Wednesday that the U.S. Navy has committed to repairing the burned nuclear submarine USS Miami at the Kittery-based Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, returning $450 million in work to the shipyard where an employee allegedly set fire in the vessel.
Collins advocated for $150 million to be included in the fiscal year 2013 defense budget to start the repair work, which is expected to be complete by April 2015.
Wednesday’s announcement confirms days of speculation that the ambitious reclamation of the USS Miami, which was gutted by an arsonist’s fire while in the shipyard’s dry dock on May 23, would take place in Maine.
“I am thrilled the Navy has reached this important decision,” Collins said in a statement Wednesday. “The USS Miami represents a significant investment in our national security; it is important that it return to the fleet as quickly as possible so that it is available to fulfill its mission. Portsmouth Naval Shipyard has the best submarine repair capability in the nation, and with the expert assistance of both Electric Boat and Huntington Ingalls, the Miami will be repaired swiftly and will provide the Navy with many years of additional service.”
Portsmouth Naval Shipyard will be aided by the Virginia-based Huntington Ingalls Industries and Connecticut-based Electric Boat — like Bath Iron Works, a subsidiary of General Dynamics Corp. — during the repair effort, Collins said.
Casey James Fury, 24, is facing federal charges of arson tied to the May 23 submarine blaze, as well as a separate fire he is accused of setting at the shipyard June 16 which was quickly extinguished.
Investigators say Fury set fire to some rags inside the vessel while working aboard the USS Miami because he was suffering from anxiety and wanted to leave work early to meet with his girlfriend.
If convicted, Fury could face life in prison and as much as $250,000 in fines for each charge.