The Navy said farewell Friday to the USS Miami, the nuclear-powered submarine whose service was cut short when a shipyard employee trying to get out of work set it on fire, causing $700 million in damage. The somber deactivation ceremony at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard marked the beginning of an inglorious end: Next year, the submarine will be towed to the West Coast to be cut up for scrap metal. Rear Adm. Ken Perry, commander of the submarine Group Two in Groton, Conn., where the sub was based, acknowledged the disappointment over its premature retirement but told the crowd they were there to celebrate Miami and its crew members for nearly 24 years of service.
–\After the incident, the Navy initially said it would repair the Los Angeles-class attack submarine. The Navy told Congress in August 2013 that the estimated cost to repair the vessel had gone from $450 million to $700 million after the discovery of unanticipated damage and cost overruns.
The Navy dropped the project at that time, citing a fiscally constrained environment and the automatic federal government spending cuts known as sequestration that were triggered in earlier in 2013.
Today's decommissioning ceremony will be held in the shipyard's main auditorium and attended by current crew members, their families and other invited guests. The event will mark the end of Miami's nearly 24 years of active service. The ship's first commanding officer, retired Capt. Thomas Mader, will be the keynote speaker. Rear Adm. Ken Perry, commander of Submarine Group 2, will be the guest speaker. Cmdr. Rolf Spelker, who assumed command of Miami on Nov. 15, is also scheduled to speak at the ceremony.
The submarine is currently undergoing an inactivation process the Navy announced last fall. A crew of 111 officers and enlisted personnel will all be reassigned to other units by December, the Navy said.
USS Miami was commissioned June 30, 1990, as the Navy's 44th Los Angeles-class submarine. It has been led by 11 commanding officers and hundreds of sailors have staffed the ship over the years.
In March 2013, former shipyard worker Casey Fury was sentenced to 17 years in federal prison for setting fire to the Miami. He admitted to setting the blaze, citing a desire to go home early and an anxiety disorder as reasons for his actions. During Fury's sentencing hearing, U.S. District Court Judge George Singal said it was necessary to weigh the "significant" loss to the Navy and the risk placed on firefighters, while also taking into consideration Fury's mental condition.
Fury was sentenced on two counts of arson for setting the May 23, 2012, fire that severely damaged the Miami, and a smaller fire outside the submarine several weeks later. Singal also ordered Fury to pay the Navy $400 million in restitution.