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.