WASHINGTON – A tiny fire and concerns over work space tidiness on board the amphibious assault ship Kearsarge triggered a stop-work order Friday at General Dynamics NASSCO in Norfolk, but the shipyard was given the go-ahead Tuesday to recommence work, Naval Sea Systems Command told Defense News in a statement.

NASSCO had to demonstrate it had its act together in regards to the fire and cleanliness before it could start work again, the command said.

“To remove the stop work order, General Dynamics NASSCO – Norfolk was required to validate proper housekeeping and cleanliness, removal of unnecessary clutter and ensure unrestricted access to firefighting and damage control equipment,” the statement read. “Secondly, NASSCO employees and subcontractors supporting GD-NASSCO – Norfolk were required to complete fire and general safety training.

“Compliance with these actions is necessary to ensure established procedures and protocols are adhered to in order to prevent any unforeseen incidents or fires. Navy officials verified that these actions are complete, and as such, have lifted the stop work order.”

On Friday an ember from a welding operations landed on some plastic, which began to melt and smoke, but was immediately extinguished by the fire watch, meaning a sailor or contractor standing by with an extinguisher in case of just such a circumstance.

In a statement, NASSCO spokesman Anthony Paolino said his teams had been through refreshers on fire safety and were busy back at work.

“Safety, including hot work safety, is the primary consideration in all that we do here at NASSCO,” Paolino said. “[Monday] we spent the morning talking to our crews and emphasizing proper hot work procedures, fire zone boundary requirements, incident reporting, and evacuation and muster procedures. These discussions have taken place at all NASSCO repair sites.

“Today we completed thorough housekeeping and safety walk-throughs. Individual ship project teams and a joint Navy/NASSCO senior management team walked every vessel under contract to verify completion. Shortly after the walkthroughs were completed, we were notified to resume work on all availabilities."

The stop-work order should have minimal impact on the Kearsarge’s repair schedule. The ship has been at NASSCO since late last year.

The Navy has been putting a heavy focus on fire safety in the wake of the Bonhomme Richard fire, that burned for days and damaged 11 of the 14 decks on the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship.

David B. Larter was the naval warfare reporter for Defense News.

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