Sound the General Alarm: The Finale

The investigation is complete concerning the fire on the USS GEORGE WASHINGTON.

The CO and XO have been relieved of duty due to shipboard practices that may have led to the extensive fire.

The Navy officials said investigators believe the fire was started when a cigarette ignited material stored in an engineering room.

Investigators found flammable liquids stored in an engineering area of the ship, which is strictly prohibited. Investigators also found that sailors were allowed to smoke in the same engineering areas, considered another violation.

An article in the Navy Times has a few more details:

The investigation found that the likely cause of the fire, which caused $70 million in damage, “was unauthorized smoking that ignited flammable liquids and other combustible material improperly stored in an adjacent space,” officials said in the statement. “The fire and the subsequent magnitude of the fire were the result of a series of human acts that could have been prevented. Specifically, the storage of 90 gallons of refrigerant compressor oil in an unauthorized space contributed to the intensity of the fire.”

The (heavily) redacted report should be released in a few weeks. It should be an interesting read to see what other actions took place on the ship and what other heads are rolling from this. I say that only because, while the CO and XO are certainly responsible for the entire ship, I guarantee that it wasn’t the CO who chose the Engineroom to store unauthorized materials. And he certainly didn’t tell people to smoke next to the containers of compressed refrigerant. On a ship the size of a carrier, it’s simply unrealistic for him to know every. single. thing. going. on.

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15 Responses to Sound the General Alarm: The Finale

  1. Jean-Michel Moise says:

    The Navy makes the leadership of a unit fully responsible for everything that happens within the unit. It is a formidable way to insure that the leadership is on top of everything because it is their career in the line. But is it realistic and fair? The CO’s are all sleepless to insure safety of their ships. They adhere beyond any standing manual. They act as if the ships are theirs. With all the micromanaging and safety training they conduct almost daily, someone will screw it up for the whole crew. And the CO’s & XO’s will pay the ultimate price. This is not fair. there is a reason why they were given command of the ship to begin with. Because they are qualified for it. you don’t make just any joe CO of an aircraft carrier. No CO will authorize his crew to smoke in an engineroom. I don’t believe it. The individuals who caused the fire should be held liable for it. I just don’t like scapegoating.

  2. tokyo5 says:

    Most people in Japan don’t want America to bring a nuclear ship here…especially after it had this accident!

    Last May, I wrote a post about it here:

    And this is my blog’s main page:

    “Tokyo Five”

  3. Sandy Salt says:

    The CO is responsible and I am sure that this was a systemic problem. If it had been caused by the actions of one or two people they would have been hammered, but this shows that there were on-going issues that should have been taken care of before they got out of hand. How many times had the CO/XO been to the Engineroom in the last 30 days?

  4. fastnav says:

    Sandy –
    Exactly. I agree the CO and XO are ultimately responsible, but I want more details (as many as I can get). How long HAD the materials been stored there? What was the level of supervision in the area? Basically, I want answers to the age-old question of, “How many people had an opportunity to enact the right answer?”

    If the problem is systemic, like you and I think, there’s more people than the CO and XO at fault.

  5. You wish you knew me says:

    Give it time. Shortly the individuals that were directly responsible for the fire will be exposed. It is unfortunate that so many people were/will be affected by the careless mistakes of a few. The CO and XO stayed positive through it all and the command is at a great loss without them both. Boy, these big-wigs couldn’t have picked a better time to throw a little more trauma in the mix on GW. Way to go!

  6. Ex-navy man says:

    I used to be on the that carrier while Capt Dykhoff was in command. He was a very sharp and on point Captain. I don’t beleive he knew the smoking was going on in the spaces that weren’t authorized. But the NAVY had to take action and punish someone. It’s sad, but the people responsible will soon be exposed.

  7. It definitely means more money for “The Bush Cabal’s” elite private contractors to make a fat little bonus with bid, and contracts repairing the ship!!

    Peace and Freedom

  8. desertart says:

    What’s this about cableways facillitating the spread of the fire? It seems like this space was near or below the waterline. Do these pierce watertight bulkheads? If all the hatches are sealed, are spaces beyond them likely to fill with water anyway through these channels?

  9. fastnav says:

    desertart –
    I’ve never been on a carrier, so I can’t answer sufficiently on the water tight integrity of surface cableways.
    From a general ship design perspective, there are cable ways running through the overhead of every space on a ship, regardless of where it is in relation to the waterline. It’s how we get electricity, water, steam, communications, etc around the ship.
    The beauty of military ships is that we don’t bother to hide those cables behind a wall, they’re just sitting there in the ceiling. Once fire spreads to those, it can run along the cables and into the next room pretty easy. Not every room is watertight, but even still the cables have to run through those water-tight bulkheads. They usually pass through some sort of opening with a gasket that is pressure tight, but even gaskets melt with fire. They’re meant to hold back water, not flame.

  10. John Toomey (i was onboard and faught fire) says:

    I was onboard the USS George Washington during the fire it was quite a scary scence many people were hurt and it was very bad the days after the fire my berthing had no water, ventilation, or power. so me and my other guys from squadron slept outside on the flight deck…
    it sucked!!!!

  11. Walter McIntyre says:

    A few years back, I had an opportunity to work with Capt. David Dykhoff regarding a school adoption program in the Coachella Valley when he was USS Nimitz XO.

    This is a total shock, for I found Capt. Dykhoff to be one of the most profession senior officers that I had met regarding my program. He is very attentive to detail. Yes, I too would like to know more.

  12. you wish you knew me says:

    Nobody slept outside on the flight deck. That is a lie. Everyone had to shift their berthings from one end of the ship to another but nobody slept outside.

    Furthermore, I would have to agree with Mr. McIntire in saying that Capt Dykhoff was a great man as well as Capt Dober. We will miss them both!

  13. fastnav says:

    I was talking with a former Nuke Officer from GW and she too had nothing but great things to say about these two men.

    • Tanawpong says:

      i hoped it would have woked, but to give me multiple dll erorrs i have seven 64bit .i think i will never play this game. by the way, thank you even if it doesn’t work on me

  14. Another Ex-Navy says:

    I was also on that ship before I the ship deployed for Japan and I was there when Dykhoff was in command. He was a good captain but like someone said, it’s nearly impossible to know every single thing that’s going on in a carrier. A carrier is a floating city with 3500+ people underway. Not his fault but Navy had to blame the overall guy in charge.

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