A fire Monday morning destroyed a 55-foot research vessel owned by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration undergoing repairs at the Cambridge Yacht Maintenance boatyard on Cambridge Creek.
Investigators from the Maryland State Fire Marshal's office said the accidental fire caused about $500,000 in damages.
The RV Laidly caught fire around 8:56 a.m. Monday, according to investigators for the Maryland State Fire Marshal, who said the accidental fire happened while a contractor was welding to repair the hull of the vessel and welding sparks ignited nearby combustibles inside the boat.
NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service had operated the vessel from the Cooperative Oxford Laboratory, a joint venture between NOAA and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
Fire investigators said 25 firefighters from Cambridge's Rescue Fire Co. had the blaze under control in about an hour.