MAYPORT, Fla. – It took five hours to put out a fire in a cargo hold of the USS Iwo Jima that injured 11 sailors, according to the U.S. Navy.
The Navy said the fire aboard the amphibious assault ship that wad docked at Naval Station Mayport was reported at 11:45 p.m. Thursday by sailors who reported smoke. The ship’s crew along with sailors from USS The Sullivans, federal firefighters and the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department worked to contain the fire. The flames were extinguished around 4:35 a.m.
The 11 sailors reported minor injuries like smoke inhalation and exhaustion, according to the Navy’s Public Affairs Office. They were treated at the scene and released.
“Sailors are rigorously trained to combat casualties such as this fire, and we are grateful for the assistance of the installation and the local community to help ensure the safety of our people and our ships,” said Capt. Darrell Canady, commanding officer of Iwo Jima.
Retired Vice Adm. Jim Amerault, who commanded during his career, is thankful the fire and resulting casualties weren’t worse. A shipboard fire can be catastrophic.
“It’s really dangerous. Basically, the worst thing is if you’re out at sea,” Amerault said. “That’s why a ship is compartmented ... so you close down a compartment so that won’t spread or it won’t be flooded, those kinds of things,” Amerault said.
The fire did not spread beyond the cargo hold.
The cause of the fire is under investigation and the Navy is determining the extent of the damage. There was no damage to adjacent ships or to the pier infrastructure.
The ship, commissioned in 2001 and based at Mayport, was completing maintenance operations and did not have any weapons or munitions aboard, according to the Navy. There was no information on whether the ship’s mission would change or be delayed by repairs.