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US destroyer catches fire; Navy and ATF investigating

The guided missile destroyer USS Carney (DDG 64). (U.S. Navy photo by Journalist Seaman Apprentice Charles A. Ordoqui)
December 29, 2022

The Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Carney (DDG-64) caught fire while stationed at Naval Station Mayport in Florida last week. Now the Navy is investigating the incident and they’ve brought the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to assist.

The fire onboard the USS Carney broke out at approximately 3:43 a.m. Dec. 23, Lt. Cmdr. Jason Fischer, a spokesman for Naval Surface Force Atlantic told American Military News.

Fischer said six Sailors were taken to Baptist Beach Hospital to undergo medical evaluations for smoke inhalation. The sailors were all released later that day.

The ship’s crew was able to extinguish the fire and de-smoked the affected spaces. The full extent and cost of the damage to the ship is unknown at this time.

Fischer said the Navy is now “investigating the cause of the fire and determining the extent of the damage.”

Fischer confirmed that the Navy is drawing on the support of partner agencies, including the ATF.

When asked if the ATF’s involvement in the investigation indicates a suspicion of foul play or the possible use of an explosive, Fischer said, “This investigation is ongoing and out of respect for the process, we do not have additional information at this time to share.”

Jason Medina, a spokesman for the ATF Tampa Field Division, gave a similar response when asked about suspicions of foul play or an explosive in connection with the USS Carney fire.

“It would be inappropriate to characterize the team’s findings at this point,” Medina said. “Our focus is to assist the Navy and other partners in this case.”

In July of 2020, a fire broke out aboard the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6). The ship — which serves as a light carrier for helicopters and the short take-off and vertical-landing F-35B fighter jet — suffered an estimated $3.2 billion in damages, which would have taken about seven years to fully repair. The Navy ultimately elected to decommission and scrap the ship.

The Navy eventually came to prosecute Seaman Recruit Ryan Sawyer Mays, alleging he started the fire on the Bonhomme Richard. The Navy accused Mays of deliberately setting the fire out of a hatred toward the service after he failed out of the U.S. Navy SEAL selection process. After a court martial, a jury ultimately found Mays not guilty of the arson charge.