The U.S. Navy has decided not to repair the USS Miami nuclear submarine, which was extensively damaged last year in an arson fire at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
The decision was announced Monday night in a joint statement by U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Susan Collins and Angus King of Maine.
"We are disappointed by the Navy's decision to discontinue repairs to the USS Miami," the senators said in the statement. "Inactivating the Miami will mean a loss to our nuclear submarine fleet — yet another unfortunate consequence of the across-the-board cuts known as sequestration. We will continue to work together to find a responsible budget solution that replaces sequestration."
The announcement comes about a month after the nation's top military officer, Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited the shipyard, where the sub is housed and was undergoing repairs, to inspect the shipyard and receive an update on the repairs.
Casey James Fury, 26, formerly of Portsmouth, was sentenced to 17 years in prison for starting the fire at the Kittery, Maine, shipyard. Fury, a painter and sandblaster, set the blaze in a stateroom of the submarine on May 23, 2012, so he could be sent home from work early. The fire, fueled by the enamel paint on the submarine's ceilings and walls, caused $450 to $500 million in damage.
"We do recognize that the Navy has determined that the damage to the Miami is more severe than originally thought and would require a significant increase in anticipated repair costs," the senators said in the statement. "We are also encouraged that the chief of naval operations has assured us that the inactivation process and other planned maintenance work at PNSY will continue to provide a consistent workload in the long term for the shipyard's skilled and dedicated workforce."