Navy Charges Sailor With Arson in Fire That Destroyed Warship

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Politics|Navy Charges Sailor With Arson successful Fire That Destroyed Warship

The sailor, who was a subordinate of the unit erstwhile the occurrence broke retired past July, faces a proceeding that volition find whether determination volition beryllium a court-martial.

Smoke poured from the amphibious battle  vessel  Bonhomme Richard portion    successful  larboard  astatine  Naval Base San Diego past  July.
Credit...MCS2 Austin Haist/U.S. Navy

John Ismay

July 29, 2021, 11:35 p.m. ET

The Navy charged a sailor connected Thursday with deliberately starting a occurrence past twelvemonth that destroyed the Bonhomme Richard, 1 of the worst blazes to engulf an American warship extracurricular of combat.

“Evidence collected during the probe is capable to nonstop a preliminary proceeding successful accordance with owed process nether the subject justness system,” Cmdr. Sean Robertson, a Navy spokesman, said successful a statement.

Commander Robertson said the sailor was a subordinate of the ship’s unit astatine the clip of the fire, which began connected July 12, 2020. The Navy declined to supply immoderate different details astir the sailor but for his oregon her fertile — seaman apprentice — and said the sailor would look charges of willfully hazarding a vas and aggravated arson.

The commandant of the Navy’s Third Fleet, Vice Adm. Steve Koehler, volition determine whether to notation charges to a court-martial aft the results of the hearing.

In August, Navy officials said 1 sailor was nether investigation for perchance starting the shipboard fire, but it was unclear Thursday nighttime whether the charges were filed against that aforesaid person.

The Navy has yet to merchandise the results of its investigations into the blaze.

The Bonhomme Richard, an amphibious battle ship, was tied to the pier astatine Naval Base San Diego erstwhile a occurrence broke retired and rapidly grew retired of power connected a Sunday greeting erstwhile less than 200 sailors were connected board.

Initial firefighting efforts were halted aft an detonation wrong the vessel forced sailors to temporarily retreat for safety. More than 400 sailors from 16 adjacent ships fought the blaze, which reached temperatures of 1,000 degrees and took 4 days to extinguish. Dozens of subject and civilian firefighters were treated for injuries including vigor exhaustion and fume inhalation portion warring the blaze.

The vessel was decommissioned connected April 14 aft the Navy determined that repairing it would yet beryllium acold much costly than gathering a replacement. The Bonhomme Richard had been successful work since August 1998 and participated successful peacekeeping missions successful East Timor successful 2000 and aboriginal supported combat operations successful Iraq. The ship’s location larboard was Sasebo, Japan, from 2012 to 2018 earlier it returned to San Diego. It was undergoing an extended play of repair and refitting erstwhile the occurrence broke out.

According to the U.S. Naval Institute, the ship, which outgo an estimated $761 cardinal to build, was sold for $3.66 million to a institution successful Brownsville, Texas, that volition interruption it isolated and merchantability the metallic for scrap.

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