Source: San Diego Fire-Rescue Department, Naval Surface Force U.S. Pacific Fleet and United States Navy (Information):
Pictures: San Diego Fire-Rescue Department, Naval Surface Force U.S. Pacific Fleet and Fox 5 San Diego (Courtesy):
San Diego, California: Fire battle continued aboard the U.S.S. Bonhomme Richard at Naval Base San Diego on Tuesday, July 14th, 2020.
Military and civilian emergency crews spent the third day battling a raging fire aboard the ship, laboring to control a perilous crisis that injured scores of firefighters and ravaged the 41,000-ton warship.
Despite the destructiveness of the explosive, out-of-control fire, Navy officials reported late Tuesday morning that the 22 year old vessel appeared to have escaped irreparable harm, though all-out efforts to quell the flames and smoldering hot spots are still ongoing.
A press conference was held on Tuesday with Rear Admiral Philip Sobeck, Expeditionary Strike Group Three Commander, providing an update on the fire battle aboard the U.S.S. Bonhomme Richard; here’s what he said:
“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.”
The fire broke out before 9:00 a.m. PT on Sunday, July 12th, 2020 in a part of the vessel where cardboard and drywall supplies are kept, and soon was sending thick columns of acrid smoke above the bay.
According to officials at Naval Base San Diego, because the ship was undergoing maintenance work when the fire erupted, its built-in flame-suppression system was inoperative.
After about 90 minutes, authorities decided to remove all firefighters from the vessel for safety reasons, and battle the fire by helicopters and boats, surrounding the ship on the bay.
According to Navy officials, the conflagration sent below-deck temperatures as high as 1,000 degrees and eventually left the ship listing due to the amount of water it had taken on due to the firefighting efforts,
About two hours after the fire began, a blast of unknown origin shook the vessel.
According to San Diego Fire-Rescue Department, no San Diego city firefighters were aboard the ship when the explosion happened, but the blast threw several firefighters off their feet.
Adding to the dangers posed by the inferno, the flames were burning several decks away from a section in the ship where a million gallons of oil is housed.
Rear Adm. Philip Sobeck expressed confidence during Monday’s press conference that firefighters could keep the blaze away from that storage area.
A total of 38 sailors and 23 civilian firefighters have suffered various minor injuries, mostly heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation, while battling the blaze,
According to Navy spokesman Brian O’Rourke, there were 160 sailors and officers aboard the ship when the fire broke out.
About four hours after the ship began burning, the Navy moved the U.S.S. Fitzgerald and U.S.S. Russell to berths farther away from the fire.
Late Tuesday night, Navy Region Southwest posted via Facebook that U.S.S. Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) Sailors, the brave group of firefighters from waterfront commands throughout the region, and Federal Fire Department San Diego appreciate the incredible support and generosity shown by San Diego and our strong Navy family.
At this time, the Navy is assisting Bonhomme Richard Sailors affected by the fire with all essential items. If you are considering making a donation, please be aware of scams and unofficial sites.
NCIS urges the DON family and community members to remain vigilant of fraudulent GoFundMe pages and other fraudulent charities soliciting for donations in response to the fire aboard USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6).
Please report tips to NCIS using the NCIS Tips app, at: https://www.ncis.navy.mil/Resources/NCIS-Tips/ or at your local NCIS office.
Contact information for local NCIS offices may be found at:
Three days after the fire, what sparked the fire aboard the U.S.S. Bonhomme Richard remains unknown.
Thanks to all of the great firefighters both citizens and military for their hard work and dedication in battling this fire aboard the U.S.S. Bonhomme Richard; the nation salutes you all.
Stay tuned to ZachNews as more news updates come in regarding this news story.