Fire Aboard U.S. Navy Amphibious Assault Ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6): Latest Updates

Sailors reported a fire aboard the U.S. Navy Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) at approximately 8:30 a.m. local time July 12, while moored at Naval Base San Diego.

The origin of the fire is unknown and is pending investigation.

July 16, 1 p.m. PDT update

The following statement is from Rear Adm. Philip Sobeck, commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 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.”

July 16, 11:00 PDT update

Rear Adm. Philip Sobeck, commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 3, will hold a press conference at Anchors Catering and Conference Center at 2:00 p.m. July 16 to provide updates and discuss the fire on board USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6).

The press conference will be live-streamed on Surface Warriors FB page.

July 16, 6 a.m. PDT update

Firefighting teams are aboard USS Bonhomme Richard continuing operations. The total personnel treated for minor injuries remains 63 (40 Sailors and 23 civilians).

July 15, 11 p.m. PDT update

Out of an abundance of caution the pier and ship were cleared of personnel due to an initial shift in the ship’s list. Personnel are now pierside.

July 15, 3:30 p.m. PDT update

Firefighting efforts continue. There are no scheduled press conferences today.

July 15, 6 a.m. PDT update

Firefighting teams continue operations aboard USS Bonhomme Richard. Sixty-three personnel (40 Sailors and 23 civilians) have been treated for minor injuries including heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation. Currently, there are no personnel hospitalized. Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 3 has conducted more than 1,500 helicopter water bucket drops, which is cooling the superstructure and flight deck, enabling fire crews to get aboard internally to fight the fire.

July 14, 11:30 a.m. PDT update

Rear Adm. Philip Sobeck, commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 3, held a press conference regarding USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) fire at 11:00 a.m. PDT.

Speech Transcript:

**Start Statement** “Good morning. My name is Rear Admiral Philip Sobeck, and I am the Expeditionary Strike Group THREE commander. I’d like to start by thanking the people of San Diego, National City, Coronado, and all the other communities in San Diego County for their continued support. For more than 48 hours brave Sailors from commands all across San Diego have been working tirelessly alongside Federal Fire San Diego to get this fire under control and I want to thank them for their efforts. I want to provide you with some updates on the progress we have made: First, we have investigated the four main engineering spaces and found no major damage. There is no threat to the fuel tanks, which is well-below any active fires or heat sources. The ship is stable and the structure is safe. We still have an active fire, which we are combatting from both within and outside the ship from multiple access points. HSC 3 helicopters have conducted more than 1,000 helicopter water bucket drops, which is cooling the super structure and flight deck enabling fire crews to get onboard internally to fight the fire. Tugs are also provide firefighting support from the waterline. I’m proud of the toughness of the Sailors and Federal Firefighters for making this significant progress possible. At this time there are 61 personnel, 38 U.S. Navy Sailors and 23 civilians, have been treated for minor injuries including heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation. Currently, there are no personnel hospitalized. Going forward, the Navy will do a thorough investigation of the incident to include assessing the cause of the fire and damage to the ship, but right now our focus remains on putting out the fire and keeping people safe. I’d like to also thank our partners from state and county as well as the Coast Guard for monitoring the potential impacts to the environment. As we continue to fight the fire, we remain cognizant of environmental concerns regarding the water and air quality. We recommend residents follow county advisories for safety out of an abundance of caution. Thank you again for your being here and we are now ready to take your question.” **End Statement**

July 14, 9:30 a.m. PDT update

Sailors and civilian fire crews continue to combat the fire aboard USS Bonhomme Richard.

July 13, 6:30 p.m. PDT update

Below is a statement from Cmdr. Chris Wright, Response Department Head, Coast Guard Sector San Diego.

While the United States Navy continues to effect response actions to quell the fire aboard the USS BONHOMME RICHARD, the United States Coast Guard continues to assess environmental sensitivities and has contracted an Oil Spill Response Organization to preemptively deploy protective boom to guard against any potential environmental concerns. A one-nautical mile safety zone has been established to ensure the safety of the maritime public. Additionally, a one-nautical mile temporary flight-restriction zone from surface to 3,000 feet altitude has been established to maintain the safety of all firefighting aircraft. Neighboring marinas are also currently being advised to utilize protective safety measures. The safety of first responders, protection of the marine environment and the uninterrupted flow of commerce remain the highest concerns to the Coast Guard. Responders will continue to monitor and assess potential environmental concerns and adjust response actions to ensure the safety and security of the maritime public and the marine environment.

July 13, 3:30 p.m. PDT update

Firefighting teams continue operations aboard USS Bonhomme Richard. Fifty-nine personnel (36 Sailors and and 23 civilians) have been treated for minor injuries including heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation. Currently, there are no personnel hospitalized.

Rear Adm. Philip Sobeck, commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 3, and Capt. Will Eastham, HSC-3 commanding officer, provided an update on firefighting efforts aboard USS Bonhomme Richard during a July 13, 11 a.m. PDT press conference at Naval Base San Diego.

July 13, 6:30 a.m. PDT (local time) update

Firefighting teams continue operations aboard the ship. Fifty-seven personnel (34 Sailors and 23 civilians) have been treated for minor injuries including heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation. Of those, five remain hospitalized for observation and are currently in stable condition.

July 13, 3:30 a.m. PDT update

Firefighting teams continue operations aboard USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) in addition to aerial firefighting operations that commenced via helicopter water bucket at 10:30 p.m. with two helicopters from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 3.

There are five Sailors admitted to local hospitals for observation. All are in stable condition.

July 12, 11:19 p.m. (local time) update

As of 11:00 p.m. defensive operations continue on board USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6). Additionally, aerial firefighting operations commenced via helicopter water bucket at 1:30 a.m. with two MH-60S Seahawk (aka Knighthawk) helicopters from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron THREE (HSC-3).

USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) Fire
An MH-60S Knighthawk helicopter from U.S. Navy Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 3 combats a fire aboard the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) at Naval Base San Diego on July 12. (USN photo by MC3 Christina Ross)

As of 10:24 p.m., there are 15 personnel including 13 Sailors and two Federal Fire firefighters, admitted to local hospitals. All are currently in stable condition.

July 13, 9:00 p.m. (local time) update

As of 9:00 p.m. local time July 12, 2020, there are 16 personnel including 15 Sailors and one Federal Fire firefighter, admitted to local hospitals. All are currently in stable condition.

The bridge of the vessel appears to be fully engulfed in flames.

According to an eyewitness, the vessel developed a starboard list.

Statement from the Chief of Naval Operations on fire aboard USS Bonhomme Richard:

WASHINGTON (NNS) — Today, we suffered a terrible tragedy aboard USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) when a fire broke out aboard the ship while in port San Diego. At this point, 17 Sailors and four civilians are being treated for non-life threatening injuries at a local hospital.

The remainder of the crew is accounted for.  We are grateful for the quick and immediate response of local, base, and shipboard firefighters aboard USS Bonhomme Richard. Our thoughts and prayers are with our BHR Sailors, their families, and our emergency responders who continue to fight the fire. Godspeed.

July 12, 6:30 p.m. (local time) update

Rear Adm. Philip Sobeck, commander of Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 3, provides an update on firefighting efforts aboard USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) during a July 12, 6:30 p.m. PDT press conference in San Diego.

July 12, 4:00 p.m. (local time) update

Federal Fire San Diego is the on-scene lead for firefighting efforts on Naval Base San Diego combating the fire on USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6).

“Currently there are two firefighting teams fighting the fire aboard the ship,” said Federal Fire San Diego Division Chief Rob Bondurant. “Federal Fire is rotating their crews aboard the ship with U.S. Navy firefighting crews from the waterfront to fight the fire in order to, find the seat of the fire and extinguish it. Also, Navy Region Southwest tugs are also continuously combatting the fire from the bay”

The origin of the fire is still unknown and is pending investigation.

July 12, 3:46 p.m. local time (6:46 EDT) update

Thus far seventeen Sailors and four civilians are being treated at a local hospital. All crew members have been accounted for.

Naval Base San Diego, the City of San Diego Fire Department, Harbor Police fire boats, and fire teams from other ships continue firefighting efforts.

USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) Fire
200712-N-BL599-1044 SAN DIEGO – Port of San Diego Harbor Police Department boats combat a fire on board USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) at Naval Base San Diego, July 12. (U.S. Navy photo by MC3 Christina Ross)

July 12, 2:30 p.m. PDT update

Thus far 17 Sailors and four civilians are being treated for non-life threatening injuries at a local hospital.

At approximately 1 p.m. the DDG-51 Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) and USS Russell (DDG 59) shifted berths to a pier further away from the fire.

July 12, 1:36 p.m. PDT (local time) update

Sailors reported a fire aboard the U.S. Navy Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) while moored pier side at Naval Base San Diego July 12, at approximately 8:30 am local time.

Approximately 160 Sailors were aboard at the time. USS Bonhomme Richard has a crew size of approximately 1000. Bonhomme Richard is in San Diego for a regularly scheduled maintenance availability.

Local, base and shipboard firefighters are responding to the fire.

USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) at Naval Base San Diego

The amphib was reportedly undergoing phased maintenance availability at the base for which General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Co. (NASSCO) was awarded a $218 million contract 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.

USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6)
File image of U.S. Navy Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6). (U.S. Navy photo by MC3 Class Kevin V. Cunningham/Released)




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