MSC ship towed to Mobile after engine room fire

(MOBILE, Ala.) — A fire broke out Thursday in the engine room of USNS Sgt. William R. Button (T-AK-3012), leaving it stranded off the coast of Dauphin Island in the Gulf of Mexico.

Sgt. William R. Button is a Military Sealift Command (MSC) ship. It was conducting routine operations at the time of the fire, MSC spokesman Thomas Van Leunen told USNI News.

There were 53 people aboard at the time of the fire, which left the ship stranded about 24 miles from Dauphin Island, according to Alabama’s Channel 5 News WKRG. The crew was able to use the onboard CO2 fire suppression system to extinguish the fire, Van Leunen said. The cause of the fire is under investigation. There were no injuries.

Four tugboats brought the ship to Alabama Shipyard in Mobile, Ala.

USNS Sgt. William R. Button. NavSource file photo

Button was in Alabama for scheduled maintenance, Van Leunen said. The ship is part of the Navy’s Maritime Prepositioning Force.

General Dynamics’ Quincy Shipbuilding Division in Quincy, Mass., built the ship, which the Navy acquired in 1986. It entered service under MSC as M/V Sgt. William R. Button and then re-entered the service as USNS Sgt. William R. Button in 2009, according to the Navy.

By Professional Mariner Staff