The end is near for the crew of the doomed USS Forrestal, which sunk off the coast of Newport News, Virginia, last year.
The Navy announced late Wednesday that its final ship-to-ship fire of the year had been extinguished, with the ship’s crew safely ashore.
The Forrestal had sailed from the USS Nimitz, in the Gulf of Mexico, to Newport News in February of this year, carrying more than 700 sailors and Marines, including two officers.
The ship was carrying more crew and supplies than any other vessel in the Navy’s inventory at the time, and had sailed out of Newport for a series of training exercises.
But in mid-March, the Forrestal’s commanding officer, Captain William H. “Billy” Smith Jr., was killed in a fire that broke out during an exercise.
After the fire, Smith’s replacement, Captain David W. Jones, was assigned to command the Forrestals training exercises off the shore of Norfolk, Virginia.
But on April 12, the crew received an email informing them that they would no longer be able to perform training exercises in Newport News.
The last training exercise at Newport News was to be held on May 10, with Jones and Smith scheduled to lead the ship through a series for a total of six days, with three days on land.
The Newport News Fire Department said in a statement that the ship was “totally destroyed” and the fire was caused by “a mechanical issue.”
“This tragedy is very difficult to bear,” the statement said.
“As a family, we are heartbroken for the many families that have lost loved ones, and the thousands of Sailors and Marines who are currently serving in the United States Navy.
The United States and our nation are in a very difficult time and we can’t afford to let this tragedy go on like this.”
The Forrestals last fire, which took place on May 3, 2016, was the worst incident of its kind in Navy history, according to the Navy.
“Our hearts go out to the crew members of the Forrestales ship who lost their lives and to the families and friends who have suffered through this tragic loss,” the Navy said in the statement.
The Department of Defense did not respond to a request for comment on whether it was considering issuing a formal report on the Forrestalls last fire.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.