PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - A civilian laborer set a fire that caused $400 million in damage to a nuclear-powered submarine because he had anxiety and wanted to get out of work early, Navy investigators said Monday.
Casey James Fury, 24, of Portsmouth, N.H., faces up to life in prison if convicted of two counts of arson in the fire aboard the USS Miami attack submarine while it was in dry dock May 23 and a second blaze outside the sub on June 16.
Fury was taking medications for anxiety and depression and told investigators he set the fires so he could get out of work, according a seven-page affidavit filed Monday in U.S. District Court.
Fury made his first court appearance Monday afternoon but did not enter a plea.
The Miami was in dry dock at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, for an overhaul when the fire damaged the torpedo room and command area inside the forward compartment. It took more than 12 hours to extinguish.
A second fire was reported June 16 on the dry dock cradle on which the Miami rests, but there was no damage.
Fury, who was working on the sub as a painter and sandblaster, initially denied starting the fires but eventually acknowledged his involvement, the affidavit states.
He admitted setting the May 23 fire, which caused an estimated $400 million in damage, while taking a lie-detector test.
Fury told Timothy Bailey, an agent for the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, that "his anxiety started getting really bad," so he grabbed his cigarettes and a lighter, walked up to a bunk room and set fire to some rags on the top bunk.
Fury said he set the second fire after getting anxious over a text-message exchange with an ex-girlfriend about a man she had started seeing. He wanted to leave work early, so he took some alcohol wipes and set them on fire outside.