Byline: Associated Press/David Sharp
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A shipyard worker who set fire to rags aboard a nuclear submarine because he wanted to go home was sentenced to a little more than 17 years in federal prison March 15, for the blaze that transformed the vessel into a fiery furnace, injured seven people and caused $450 million in damage.
The worker, Casey James Fury, also was ordered to pay $400 million in restitution.
The judge imposed the sentence under a plea agreement that limited Fury’s time in prison to roughly 15 to 19 years for arson.
The 25-year-old Fury pleaded guilty to setting the May 23 fire while the submarine was undergoing a 20-month drydock overhaul at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery.
The civilian painter and sand blaster told authorities that he needed to go home because he was suffering from an anxiety attack and had no more vacation or sick leave. He said he never envisioned such extensive damage when he used a lighter to set fire to a plastic bag of rags that he left on a bunk in a stateroom.
The blaze quickly grew into an inferno, spewing superheated smoke that billowed from hatches. It took 12 hours for more than 100 firefighters to save the submarine.
About three weeks later, Fury set a second fire outside the crippled sub, again claiming he wanted to go home because of anxiety. That fire caused little damage. He pleaded guilty to two counts of arson in November.
The first blaze damaged forward compartments, including living quarters, a command and control center, and the torpedo room. It did not reach the rear of the submarine, where the nuclear propulsion components are located.