Bad maintenance bit the U.S. Navy
once more, when a fire broke out, on May 22nd, near a major ventilation conduit
in the rear of the carrier USS George Washington. That conduit not only circulates air to compartments below
the waterline, but also contains pipes carrying large numbers of electrical and
communications cables. These lit up and before the fire was completely put out
(it took twelve hours), over 120,000 meters (nearly 400,000 feet) of cables
were damaged or destroyed. Over fifty
spaces (compartments) were damaged. The full extent of the damage is not yet
known, thus the USS Kitty Hawk, which the George Washington was on its way to
relieve, may have to stay in the western Pacific for weeks, or months, until
the Washington is good to go.
was caused by improper storage of combustible material. This is a common
problem when a ship is setting off on a long cruise, and there's lots of stuff
to be stored away. The Washington was moving around the southern tip of South
America when the fire broke out. Had the combustible material not been there,
the fire would not have lasted as long, done as much damage, or perhaps even
started at all.
last year, major ship inspections (by teams sent in by higher commands) have
found increasing evidence of lower standards and poor work habits in the U.S. Navy.
The navy is still trying to find, and fix, all the causes of this problem.
Meanwhile, they have the fire on the Washington to remind that the problem is