Navy orders shipyard to stop work after fire is quelled aboard sister ship to Bonhomme Richard

A welding spark reportedly landed atop flammable materials aboard the USS Kearsarge on Friday.

Updated: July 20, 2020 - 1:44pm

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The Navy issued a stop-work order on Friday at a Virginia shipyard, after a fire watch team stopped flames from spreading through a sister ship of the USS Bonhomme Richard, according to reports.

The amphibious assault ship Kearsarge was undergoing maintenance at the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in Norfolk, when a welding spark landed on flammable material, a Navy official told Just the News. 

Although the fire team crew prevented a blaze, the Navy issued the stop order in light of the recent fire that ravaged another amphibious assault ship, the Bonhomme Richard, the official said. That fire raged for four days before being extinguished on July 16. 

One day after the Navy announced that the Bonhomme Richard fire was quenched in California, another was reported on the Kearsarge in Virginia.

"On July 17, the Navy was informed of a fire aboard USS Kearsarge" while it was berthed at the NASSCO facility in Norfolk, Naval Sea Systems Command spokesman Rory O'Connor told Just the News in a statement. "The fire was quickly extinguished by the fire watch and resulted in minimal damage."

In response to the incident, O'Connor said, the Navy stopped maintenance on all its ships at the Norfolk facility. The Navy issued the directive in order to ensure compliance with fire protocols, he said.

Commissioned in 1993, the Kearsarge on her first deployment rescued Air Force Capt. Scott O'Grady, who in 1995 was shot down over hostile territory in Bosnia.

The ship is stationed at Norfolk Naval Station, but is at the NASSCO Norfolk Shipyard for maintenance, according to the Navy.

The National Steel and Shipbuilding Company, known as NASSCO, operates major shipyards in California, Florida, Virginia, and Washington. 

A NASSCO spokesperson did not immediately return phone calls on Sunday.

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