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Monday, August 3, 2020

Amphibious Assault Ship USS Bonhomme Richard Is On Fire At Naval Base San Diego (Updated)

Smoke is billowing from the ship as firefighters from around San Diego have moved in to try to stop the blaze.
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KGTV Channel 10 News screenshot

Details remain limited, but the Wasp class amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) is burning pier-side at Naval Base San Diego. Aerial footage shows thick smoke billowing from the ship’s hangar deck as firefighting crews have moved in to try to halt the blaze. Reports state that an unknown number of sailors have been hurt as a result of the fire. 

Fire crews from across San Diego have been called in to fight the fire, which some sources state emanates from below the waterline. Loud booms have been heard coming from the ship, but it isn’t clear what exactly is causing them. 

The last major pier-side incident for a U.S. Navy ship in San Diego occurred when disaster struck at the nearby NASSCO shipyards in 2018 when one of the dry docks holding the still under construction USS Miguel Keith flooded, causing significant damage to the vessel. 

As for other major U.S. Navy fires, this could end up being the worst one since the arson fire that struck the Los Angeles class nuclear fast-attack submarine USS Miami in 2012. Unlike that vessel, Bonhomme Richard is conventionally powered, but is one of just nine big-deck amphibious assault ships within the Navy’s inventory. It is a strategic and very costly asset that provides major air and amphibious power projection when operating abroad. 

A fire on China’s new and quite similar Type 075 amphibious assault ship occurred last April, which drew negative attention from the international press. Evidence of the fire was quickly covered up by crews that literally painted over the smoke damage just hours after it occurred. 

Here is a local news live feed of the fire aboard Bonhomme Richard:

We will continue to live-update this post as more information comes available. 

UPDATE:

11 sailors were taken to the hospital with minor injuries out of about 200 that were onboard the ship when the fire struck according to the San Diego Union Tribune. The paper also reports that all of the sailors have been accounted for, which is a bit of good news. Around 150 firefighters are on the scene fighting the ongoing fire.  

UPDATE:

Chris Cavas noted that the USS Fitzgerald is berthed right next to Bonhomme Richard. Not good. The ship just got repaired after the fatal collision in 2017. The Navy may be trying to pull some of the ships off the pier in the vicinity to Bonhomme Richard. The live stream just now had a destroyer moving by, although it isn’t clear exactly which vessel it was. 

Facebook live of CBS Channel 8

UPDATE:

Apparently, the Fitzgerald was towed away. The damage to the destroyer isn’t clear, but smoke damage is very possible. 

Also, the Navy has updated the hospitalization numbers from 11 to 18:

Contact the author: Tyler@thedrive.com

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