This Day in Submarine History - USS Sargo (SSN-583) Fire
On this day in 1960, a fire broke out aboard the nuclear powered submarine USS Sargo (SSN-583) while she was in port in Pearl Harbor, HI.
The fire started when an oxygen line, being used to recharge the oxygen storage bottles aboard Sargo, ruptured. This line entered the submarine at the after torpedo room hatch.
The intense heat of the fire caused a low order detonation of the two MK-37 torpedoes in the after torpedo room. The crewman in charge of the operation aboard Sargo, MM3 (SS) James E. Smallwood, was killed.
After attempts to contain the fire failed, the decision was made to submerge the submarine, with the hatch open. Once the fire was completely extinguished, a floating crane was used to raise the stern of the submarine.
On February 29, 1998, a new Bachelor Enlisted Quarters building was dedicated in Petty Officer Smallwood's name.
Photo courtesy of Tom Hansen and the USS Sargo Website and used with their kind permission. A summary of the Board of Inquiry report can be found on the USS Sargo Website.