Investigation suspects arson as cause of fire on USS Bonhomme Richard

27 August 2020 (Last Updated August 27th, 2020 11:56)

US Naval investigators have launched a probe into a sailor in relation to the fire that occurred on the USS Bonhomme Richard ship and are suspecting arson as the cause.

Investigation suspects arson as cause of fire on USS Bonhomme Richard
The USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) at the pier side at Naval Base San Diego, California on 16 July 2020 after the fires were extinguished. Credit: US Navy photo by Mass Communications Specialist 3rd Class Jason Waite.

US Naval investigators have launched a probe into a sailor in relation to the fire that occurred on the USS Bonhomme Richard ship and are suspecting arson as the cause.

On 12 July, an explosion and fire on board the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) left around 60 people injured. There were no fatalities reported.

The ship was docked pierside at Naval Base San Diego in California when the fire escalated overnight.

News reports have quoted anonymous US Navy officials as saying that the inquiry regarding the sailor is part of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigation.

Leaders of the defence department were informed of the development. The navy sailor has not been detained.

The fire on the ship was burned for over four days and is said to be one of the worst US ship fires outside of combat in recent times.

USS Bonhomme Richard suffered extensive structural, electrical and mechanical damage due to the fire.

AP quoted Navy spokesman Lt Tim Pietrack as saying: “The navy will not comment on an ongoing investigation to protect the integrity of the investigative process and all those involved.

“We have nothing to announce at this time.”

Last month, General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Co (GD NASSCO) won a $10m contract for work on the Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6).

The award was a cost-plus-fixed-fee modification to a previously awarded contract. Work under the award is expected to conclude by November.