Casey James Fury, 24, of Portsmouth, N.H., reportedly wanted to leave work early. Not an uncommon desire in the American workforce. However, Fury acted on his desire by setting fire to a nuclear-powered submarine — the USS Miami attack submarine — causing $400 million in damage. He now faces life in prison for allegedly seeking a day off through arson. One fire was reportedly set after Fury was dumped by his girlfriend.
Fury, 24, is charged with two counts of arson — one for a fire on the sub on May 23 and a second blaze outside the sub on June 16. Notably, he can be forced to pay restitution — a prospect that would require a couple of jobs to put a dent in the $400 million bill.
The Miami was in dry dock at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, for an overhaul at the time. The first fire took 12 hours to extinguish and damaged the torpedo room and command area. At the time, Fury was working as a painter and sandblaster.
After the fire, the Navy concluded that the fire was not set due to a vacuum cleaner sucking up a heat source that in turn ignited debris inside.
Fury reportedly confessed after being told by Navy investigators that he failed a lie detector test. Polygraphs are often used for their ability to unnerve a suspect or prompt a confession. I have handled cases where the test itself was little more than theater — isolating a suspect and then confronting them with an allegation as “proven” by the machine. It is not clear why Fury would consent to such a test if he was the culprit or why he did not secure counsel.
One possible defense may be that Fury was taking three different medications for anxiety and depression at the time. However, these conditions generally fall considerably short of any type of insanity defense. They could go to mitigating the sentence however.
Fury reportedly told Timothy Bailey, an agent for the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, that he was experiencing rising anxiety and decided to set fire to some rags on a bunk in the submarine. He reportedly said that he started the second fire after his girlfriend sent him a text saying that she was seeing another man. While most men turn to pick-up bars or dating sites on such occasions, Fury decided to torch the docking area of a nuclear attack sub.