Updated Dec. 8, 2021 9:43 a.m. ET to include new information provided by the Navy.
WASHINGTON: The Navy’s agency in charge of ship construction and maintenance announced Monday it is establishing an office focused on fire safety.
Naval Sea Systems Command in a written statement said the Industrial Fire Safety Assurance Group will report directly to Vice Adm. William Gallinis, the agency’s chief. The Navy cited more than $6 billion spent over the past 12 years replacing and repairing 14 capital ships and other assets damaged by shipboard fires.
One of the shipboard fires included on the Navy’s list was the amphibious ship Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6). Just weeks ago a top Navy official said the destruction wrought a by devastating July 2020 blaze aboard the vessel was “clearly preventable.”
The new group’s purpose is to analyze metrics from previous incidents and develop plans to reduce those risks moving forward.
“This includes hot work and electrical fires, which are top offenders, along with material handling and stowage, and compliance with fire safety requirements,” said Eric Duncan, director of the office, which will be referred to internally as SEA 00FS. “In addition, the group will drive all current and future NAVSEA actions resulting from fire investigations.”
The service earlier this year published two documents following its investigation into the fire that broke out on Bonhomme Richard: the command investigation into the incident itself and a review of 15 fire events that took place onboard Navy ships in recent years.
“The [major fires review] also clearly illuminated that the Navy has not been consistently effective in sustaining corrective actions from previous fires over time,” Adm. Bill Lescher, vice chief of naval operations, told reporters at the time.
Other protocols put in place in the wake of the Bonhomme Richard’s fire include additional safety checks at the shipyards and exercises being conducted jointly between the Navy and local authorities.
Navy stands up fire safety office at NAVSEA – Breaking Defense Breaking Defense is written by Justin Katz for breakingdefense.com