Archive for July 17, 2020

FRIDAY FOTO (July 17, 2020)

Four-Day Fire — Update

USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) Fire

(U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Austin Haist)

This photo shows the Navy amphibious assault ship, USS Bonhomme Richard, on fire beside the pier at Naval Base San Diego, California on July 12. It wasn’t until Thursday, July 16, after four harrowing days of smoke, intense heat and flames that the fire was put out.

The Navy announced firefighters have extinguished all known fires on Bonhomme Richard, Seapower magazine reported. Rear Admiral Philip Sobeck, commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 3, said “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,” Sobeck said July 16.

The 22-year-old Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) had been in San Diego since 2018 undergoing modernization including being prepared to accommodate the F-35B, a vertical lift and short take-off variant of the Lightning II joint strike fighter.

Experts said the loss of Bonhomme Richard — whether completely or just lost for extensive repairs — deals a significant blow to the Navy’s plans to have F-35Bs continually deployed in the Pacific. according to Defense News. And that could pose problems for asserting freedom of navigation in the South China Sea and rejecting China’s territorial claims in the area.

At a press briefing in San Diego Friday (July 17), the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Mike Gilday said the damage to the ship was extensive to electrical, mechanical and structural systems.   While he was confident the defense shipbuilding industry could restore the BHR so it could return to sea, he added “the question is, should we make that investment in a 22-year-old ship.”

Gilday praised the ship’s firefighting crew and Sailors from other ships in port as well as federal and local fighters for their lengthy battle against the inferno, which at times reached over 1,000 degrees. He said looking into the cause of the fire will be one of three parallel investigations.


(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Natalie M. Byers/Released)

A second investigation, routine in such incidents, will be conducted by the Navy Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), to determine if the fire was caused by any malfeasance or criminal activity,  Gilday said the Navy also will conduct a third investigation that will look into several echelons of command to determine if the correct procedures were in effect during the emergency, Seapower reported. That third probe will look into whether the Navy reacted properly to the fire, and if measures should have been in place that were not, among other factors.

The top Navy commander promised “We will follow the facts of what happened here. We will be honest with ourselves. We will get after it as a Navy,” Seapower noted.

In the photo above, federal firefighters assess damage in the hangar bay aboard the Bohomme Richard on July 15. None of the firefighters or ship’s crew were seriously injured.

It’s worth noting that at Naval Service Training Command in Great Lakes, Illinois — the Navy’s only enlisted boot camp –recruits are trained in firefighting as one of five basic competencies, which also include damage control, watch standing, seamanship and small-arms handling and marksmanship.

July 17, 2020 at 10:10 pm Leave a comment


July 2020


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