Fire breaks out on Navy ship at sea

No sailors injured

MAYPORT, Fla. – A fire broke out onboard a Navy ship that deployed Friday from Mayport.

None of about 330 sailors on the ship were injured in the fire.

Officials said the guided missile cruiser USS Hue City was transiting the Atlantic Ocean when the blaze started.

Officials said the ship is operating under its own power.

Lt. Lauren Cole said a crew has flown onto the ship to assess the extent of the damage. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Cole said the fire was major and fairly rare. She said there are only, on average, one to two major fires per year aboard Navy vessels.

"Fire at sea is the worst nightmare at sea, and it's been known to be forever," said Retired Vice Adm. Jim Amerault. "That's why we diligently and egregiously practice fire drills of all types on the ship and in port."

Amerault has been in command of ships similar to the Hue and was on one when it caught fire.

"It was very, very serious, and they handled it very well," he said. "If they hadn't, I probably wouldn't be here today."

Amerault said the Navy does a great job training for fires and other things that could go wrong.

"During an emergency like this, large fire parties -- we call them -- are pulled together with people from all ranks on the ship," Amerault said. "But they train together in these teams on an extremely regular basis. So those teams are absolutely excellent."

The Hue City was commissioned in 1991. It's 567 feet long, 55 feet tall and is worth about $1 billion. The ship is on deployment to the Navy's Sixth Fleet area of responsibility, which includes waters near Europe and Africa.

It's unclear if it will return to Mayport as a result of the fire.