All known fires have been extinguished aboard USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) after four days of firefighting, said Rear Admiral Philip E. Sobeck, Commander of Expeditionary Strike Group THREE (ESG-3), in a press conference Thursday.
He said that the Navy is yet to ascertain the origin of the fire and the extent of the damage. he added that it is “too early to make any predictions or promises of what the future of the ship will be.”
In total, 63 personnel, including 40 U.S. Navy Sailors and 23 civilians, were treated for minor injuries including heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation with none of them currently in hospital.
Full statement from Rear Admiral Philip E. Sobeck, Commander of Expeditionary Strike Group THREE (ESG-3)
After four days of firefighting, all known fires have been extinguished aboard USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6).
Our fire teams, are investigating every space to verify the absence of fire. Until every space is checked and there are no active fires we will not be able to commence any official investigations.
We did not know the origin of the fire. We do not know the extent of the damage. It is too early to make any predictions or promises of what the future of the ship will be.
We cannot make any conclusions, until the investigation is complete.
What we do know is, that brave Sailors from commands all across San Diego worked tirelessly alongside Federal Firefighters to get this fire extinguished and I want to thank them for their efforts. This was a Navy team effort. We had support from the air and sea. Three helicopter squadrons conducted more than 1,500 water bucket drops, fighting the fire and cooling the super structure and flight deck enabling fire crews to get onboard to fight the fire. Tugs also provided firefighting support from the waterline, cooling the ship’s hull.
We had 63 personnel, 40 U.S. Navy Sailors and 23 civilians, treated for minor injuries including heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation. We have no personnel hospitalized.
The Navy continues to work together with regulators, county and state in protecting our environment and preparing to address the community’s concerns as we move forward to the next phase.
I’d like to thank our partners from state and county, the U.S. Coast Guard, and all agencies for continued support.
Fire Abroad USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6)
The fire was reported aboard USS Bonhomme Richard, which was moored pier side at Naval Base San Diego, at approximately 8:30 am local time on July 12. The fire was initially reported in the lower vehicle storage area of the ship.
Approximately 160 Sailors were aboard the 840-foot vessel at the time of the incident (the vessel has a crew size of approximately 1000). The Navy later released a statement confirming the incident adding that all crew members were accounted for.
There was also an explosion on the ship just before 11 a.m. July 12 but no one was hurt by the blast.
When the fire broke out, the vessel was docked at Pier 2 at the naval base and was sharing the pier with two DDG-51 Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers, USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) and USS Russell (DDG 59). At approximately 1:00 p.m. on July 12, the destroyers shifted berths to a pier further away from the fire.
Bonhomme Richard is in San Diego for a regularly scheduled maintenance availability. The vessel was moved to the pier after the phased maintenance availability works conducted at the nearby facility of General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Co. (NASSCO).
NASSCO was awarded a $218 million contract for the availability by the Navy’s Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) in 2018. As per the 2018 announcement, the availability which included a combination of maintenance, modernization, and repair, was “expected to be completed by May 2020”. The availability reportedly included upgrades and modernization to operate the new F-35B Joint Strike Fighter.
Before arriving in San Diego in 2018, the vessel spent six years in Japan as part of the U.S. Forward Deployed Naval Force. During this deployment, she served as the flagship of the Amphibious Force 7th Fleet’s expeditionary strike group.
USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6)
USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) is a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship of the U.S. Navy homeported at Naval Base San Diego. It is the third Navy ship of that name.
The contract to build her was awarded to Ingalls Shipbuilding on 11 December 1992, and her keel was laid down on 18 April 1995. She was launched on 14 March 1997, delivered to the Navy on 12 May 1998, and commissioned on 15 August 1998.
The primary mission of USS Bonhomme Richard is to embark, deploy and land elements of a Marine landing force in amphibious assault operations by helicopter, landing craft and amphibious vehicle.