PORTLAND, Maine -- A former shipyard worker who set fire to a U.S. nuclear-powered submarine, causing about $450 million in damage, pleaded guilty Thursday under an agreement that could send him to prison for nearly 20 years.
Casey James Fury admitted setting the fire inside the sub on May 23, as well as a second fire outside the sub on June 16, to get out of work. The defense and prosecutors agreed to recommend a sentence that ranges roughly between 15 years and 19 years.
The 24-year-old Fury pleaded guilty to two counts of arson in U.S. District Court.
It took more than 100 firefighters to save the USS Miami after the fire quickly spread through forward compartments while the sub was in dry dock at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Maine. Seven people were hurt while putting it out, the Navy has said.
The Navy intends to repair the Los Angeles-class attack sub, with a goal of returning it to sea in 2015.
Federal prosecutors said the plea agreement takes into account a number of factors, including Fury's lack of a criminal record and the fact he probably never envisioned such catastrophic damage.
The fire did not reach the rear of the submarine, where the nuclear propulsion components are located. All weapons had been removed from the submarine before the fire for an overhaul.
Fury told the NCIS that he set the fires because he was feeling anxiety and wanted to go home, according to prosecutors. The second fire, on June 16, was set outside the submarine and was quickly doused with no damage.
Navy Adm. Jonathan Greenert, chief of Naval operations, said the Navy is confident the Miami can be returned to service for about $450 million.