No one hurt in Northrop Grumman explosion, fire

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - By Doug Walker – bio | email

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - It was just after 7:30 Thursday morning when an explosion happened at Northrop Grumman's Ingalls Shipyard shook buildings a half mile away.

Workers say an electrical short of some type triggered the first blast, followed by others.

"I was working on the flight deck of LPD 24 and on the back of the ship there was an explosion," said Jonathan Ladnier. "And almost immediately afterwards, there was another explosion on the front of the ship. And when they evacuated everyone off the ship, there was a third explosion."

The docking system on the West Bank, where two ships are under construction, was damaged by the explosions and fire. While the exact cause for the explosion isn't known yet, Ladnier has a theory based on his years of experience as an electrician.

"It appeared to be one of the main feeders feeding the generators providing shire power shorted out and caused some gas lines to erupt and kind of started a chain reaction."

That gas is called Acetoline, and powers much of the welding equipment used on board the ships.  Because of that, most of the work on the ships has been halted for the time being.

Despite the harrowing moments as the explosions were occurring, Ladnier said his main concern was getting off the ship and making sure his friends were safe. And he also gives all the credit to the Northrop Grumman emergency response teams.

"We have an excellent emergency response team out here and they responded almost immediately."

Because of that response, fire trucks and personnel from the Pascagoula Fire Department, who were initially called to help, were never needed.

Most of the 2000 people working on board the two ships were sent home as a precaution, according to a Northrop Grumman press release.

Meanwhile, investigators from OSHA and Northrop Grumman are looking over the accident site, trying to determine an exact cause of the explosion and fire. There's no word on how long that investigation may take.

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