Hugh Pickens writes "AP reports that a fire that swept through a nuclear-powered submarine in dry dock at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard has caused such extensive damage to its forward compartments that the 22-year-old Los Angeles-class attack submarine might have to be scrapped. 'These submarines were designed decades ago. So they're no longer state of the art,' says analyst Loren Thompson. 'If this vessel returns to service, I will be amazed.' The fire broke out while the Miami was on a 20-month stay at the shipyard for an overhaul, and it took firefighters from more than a dozen agencies twelve hours to put out the fire, described as intense, smoky, and a 'hot scary mess.' 'It takes a lot of guts to go into a burning building. But the idea of going into a submarine full of hot toxic smoke — that's real courage,' said U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree after meeting with the shipyard commander. Firefighters isolated the flames so they would not spread to nuclear propulsion spaces at the rear of the submarine. There was nuclear fuel on board the sub, but the reactor has been shut down for two months and was unaffected. Rear Admiral Rick Breckenridge says an investigation has been launched into what caused the fire, but he expects that investigation to take a long time to complete and wouldn't say if human error has been ruled out as a cause of the fire, or if the focus is on mechanical issues."
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