In a social media post made Thursday evening, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service said it is looking "for information leading to the identification of those responsible for starting a fire" aboard the Mayport, Florida-based ship in the early morning hours of Dec. 23. The service had not previously indicated that it considered the blaze intentional.
In the days after the fire, there were hints that arson was a possibility when the Navy confirmed to Military.com that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or ATF -- an agency that calls itself the main federal source for fire investigations and expertise -- was helping in the investigation.
A Navy spokesman confirmed in December that the Carney suffered a fire at around 3:43 a.m. Dec. 23. The ship's crew, along with Jacksonville Fire and Rescue and a team from the nearby destroyer USS Mason, all responded to the blaze that, according to a Twitter account that specializes in open-source intelligence, was described as a medium-sized class-A fire in one of the ship's compartments.
Class-A blazes occur when things like wood, cloth, paper, rubber or plastic catch fire.
The Navy said that the fire was quickly extinguished, but six sailors were taken to a nearby hospital for smoke inhalation before being released the same day.
Unlike the fire that gutted the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard in 2020, the Carney was not undergoing scheduled maintenance or moored at a shipyard.
In the case of the Bonhomme Richard, the Navy ultimately accused a young sailor of starting the inferno that claimed the ship, but the case fizzled at court-martial. The ship has since been decommissioned and sent to be scrapped.
-- Konstantin Toropin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ktoropin.