Sixty-three injured in fire aboard Navy ship; vessel's fate unknown
Professional Mariner|October - November 2020
USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) sustained extensive damage from an onboard fire that started while it was tied up in San Diego, and Navy officials say it is too soon to know if the amphibious assault ship will return to service.
Casey Conley

Sixty-three people were injured fighting the fire, which was discovered July 12 at 0830 and burned for four days. The 40 Navy sailors and 23 civilian firefighters injured during the response underwent treatment for heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation, the Navy said. At least 21 were hospitalized.

The cause and origin of the fire have not been determined. Multiple investigations are underway to identify what happened aboard the 844-foot ship.

“The damage is extensive,” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said at a July 17 news conference. “There is obviously electrical damage to the ship, there is structural damage to the ship, and mechanical damage to the ship that we need to assess in much more detail before we make a final determination as to next steps.”

Gilday, in a post-incident email to high-ranking military counterparts, said the fire likely started six decks below the flight deck in a lower vehicle storage area before spreading “aft, forward and up.”

The email said sections of the flight deck are warped and bulging, according to multiple published reports. Eleven of the ship’s 14 decks sustained water damage or fire damage.

A spokesman for Gilday did not respond to Professional Mariner’s request for a copy of the email obtained by other news agencies.

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