Posted 04/25/07 22:34
By CHRISTOPHER P. CAVAS
A fire broke out on board the U.S. Navy’s littoral combat ship (LCS) USS Freedom early April 25, damaging a ship that already has had more than its share of problems.
The Freedom is under construction at Marinette Marine in Marinette, Wis., under a program managed by Lockheed Martin. The ship, launched in September, is about 80 percent complete, said Diana Massing, a spokesperson for Lockheed.
The fire, which burned for nearly an hour, broke out about 5:30 a.m. in a starboard-side berthing compartment in an area where workers were using welding and grinding equipment, Marinette Fire Department Lt. Bill Becker told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
“It was a good size fire,” Becker told the Journal Sentinel. “I went through six teams of firefighters putting it out.”
Massing said that “multiple spaces” on the starboard side were affected by the fire, but added that neither the extent nor cause of the fire were yet known.
“We are going to do a cause analysis and are working with the Navy on that,” she said.
Two shipyard workers were treated at a local hospital for smoke inhalation and released, Massing said. “There were no other injuries and everyone else was accounted for,” she added.
Lockheed’s LCS program has been under scrutiny since the beginning of the year for severe cost overruns on the Freedom, which is intended to be the first of 55 similar ships the Navy wants to buy. The ship, originally priced at $220 million, has seen its cost rise to between $350 million and $375 million due to a variety of factors, and on April 12 the Navy cancelled construction by Lockheed of a similar ship to have been built in Louisiana.
The Freedom was to have been delivered to the Navy this summer, but delays even before the fire pushed the completion date to late this winter or early next year .