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Fire Aboard The USS Carl Vinson

— A quick response by firefighters kept a blaze on a fighter aircraft aboard the San Diego-based aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson from getting out of hand in the Arabian Gulf, Navy officials said today.

The fire broke out Monday when an engine caught fire in an F/A-18C performing touch-and-go landings and takeoffs, said Lt. Cmdr. Erik Reynolds in a conference call with reporters.

The pilot noticed the fire on takeoff, circled around and landed and escaped without injury, Reynolds said.

Chief Petty Officer Benjamin Bilyeau said the speed of the firefighters' response prevented the blaze from spreading.

"If it spread to the fuel tanks the fire would have been much worse,'' said Bilyeau, from Kansas City. "We drill day-in and day-out, and to see all the training come into play was absolutely amazing.''

Petty Officer 3rd Class Julian Berry, from Texas, said he and fellow sailors got flame-retardant foam on the fire within 10 seconds of touchdown, and the flames were extinguished seconds afterward.

According to Reynolds, the plane was damaged but not destroyed. An infrared imaging pod slung beneath the aircraft was used the next day, he said.

Reynolds said air crews aboard the Carl Vinson have flown more than 1,000 sorties since departing San Diego last Nov. 30.

An engine fire in a jet aircraft aboard the USS John Stennis injured at least 10 sailors last month.

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