PORTLAND, Maine —
Hardy said the smoke was so thick that he couldn’t even see a foot in front of him and his flashlight was virtually useless. Firefighters had 20-minute air packs, but it was so hard to climb into the sub and move around inside that they were limited to two to three minutes of actual firefighting.
About three weeks later, Fury set a second fire outside the crippled sub, again because of anxiety. That fire caused no damage. He pleaded guilty to two counts of arson in November.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Darcie McElwee said it was telling that Fury set a second fire after the extensive damage caused by the first one.
But the defense lawyer David Beneman contended Fury suffered from depression and anxiety and that he never intended to harm anyone. Beneman described a “spin cycle” caused by Fury’s failure to receive adequate treatment.
Fury spoke briefly Friday, apologizing to the people who were hurt and saying he meant no disrespect to the Navy.
“From the bottom of my heart, I’m truly sorry for what I have done,” he said.
U.S. District Judge George J. Singal weighed the extreme damage caused by the fire against Fury’s lack of criminal record, which consisted of one drunken driving conviction, in finding a sentence in the middle of the 235 months sought by prosecutors and 188 months sought by the defense.
“It is only by the grace of God that no one else was more seriously hurt or killed,” the judge said.
When he completes his prison sentence, Fury will have to serve five years of supervised release. The $400 million in restitution was mandated by federal statute, but prosecutors don’t expect to collect anywhere near that sum.
The May 23 fire damaged forward compartments including living quarters, a command and control center and the torpedo room. It did not reach the rear of the Groton, Conn.-based submarine, where the nuclear propulsion components are located.