The crew of the Waesche, a national security cutter, battled heroically to save their ship after a fire broke out while it was underway in U.S. 7th Fleet Sunday.
Five Coast Guard members sustained minor injuries, but the crew was able to get the blaze under control in about 90 minutes and the stricken 418-foot-long cutter arrived at the Navy’s Fleet Forces Yokosuka, Japan, facility Tuesday, according to a Coast Guard statement.
Those injured suffered smoke inhalation, heat exhaustion and an injured knee, Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Stephen Brickey said Wednesday.
The “shipboard engineering fire” was reported at about 5:15 p.m. local time after crew members found fire in the exhaust stack and nearby spaces.
“The cause of the fire is still unknown, but a mishap investigation is underway and I expect we’ll learn more in the coming week,” Brickey told Navy Times.
The cutter will undergo further inspection and possibly repairs at Yokosuka.
“The rapid response and courageous efforts from the crewmembers aboard Waesche to quickly contain and extinguish the fire are a testament to the bravery and skill of this crew,” the cutter’s commanding officer, Capt. Jason Ryan, said in the statement.
Waesche is deployed under the tactical control of 7th Fleet, part of routine Coast Guard presence operations in the region.
Geoff is a senior staff reporter for Military Times, focusing on the Navy. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was most recently a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.