US Navy to decommission fire-damaged USS Bonhomme Richard
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US Navy to decommission fire-damaged USS Bonhomme Richard

01 Dec 2020

The US Navy has announced plans to decommission the fire-damaged Wasp-class amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6).

US Navy to decommission fire-damaged USS Bonhomme Richard
A helicopter combats fire aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6). Credit: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Garrett LaBarge.

The US Navy has announced plans to decommission the fire-damaged Wasp-class amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6).

On 12 July, an explosion and fire on-board the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) left around 60 people injured. There were no fatalities reported. The ship sustained extensive damages due to the incident.

Secretary of the Navy Kenneth Braithwaite said: “We did not come to this decision lightly. Following an extensive material assessment in which various courses of action were considered and evaluated, we came to the conclusion that it is not fiscally responsible to restore her.

“Although it saddens me that it is not cost effective to bring her back, I know this ship’s legacy will continue to live on through the brave men and women who fought so hard to save her, as well as the sailors and marines who served aboard her during her 22-year history.”

After the fire, the US Navy carried out a comprehensive material assessment, which stated that the cost of the restoration of the vessel would be more than $3bn and would be completed in over five to seven years.

Additionally, the rebuilding of the ship for other uses would incur a cost of over $1bn, which is comparable to the new-construction hospital ship, submarine tender, or command-and-control ship.

The US Navy is currently finalising the towing and dismantlement of the ship and will carry out an inactivation availability to remove systems and components, which will be used on other ships.

In August, US Naval investigators 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.

Since the fire, the US Navy has carried out different actions to offer immediate fire safety and prevention improvements for all fleet and shore installations.

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