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Navy will not repair fire-gutted USS Bonhomme Richard

Written by Nick Blenkey
Fireboats fight Bonhomme Richard fire

Port of San Diego Harbor Police Department boats helped combat the fire onboard USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) at Naval Base San Diego (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. John J. Mike)

The U.S. Navy is to decommission USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship gutted by a fire that broke out July 6 while the ship was undergoing maintenance in San Diego. All known fires aboard the ship were not extinguished until July 16. Damage was extensive.

“We did not come to this decision lightly,” said Secretary of the Navy Kenneth Braithwaite. “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.”

The Navy also examined rebuilding the ship for alternate purposes and determined the cost could exceed $1 billion, which is as much or more than a new-construction hospital ship, submarine tender, or command-and-control ship.

Although the timeline for towing and dismantling are still being finalized, the Navy will execute an inactivation availability that will remove systems and components for use in other ships.

The Navy says that since July it has taken numerous actions designed to provide immediate fire safety and prevention improvements across the fleet and at shore installations. Working collaboratively, the fleet commanders established a Fire Safety Assessment Program to conduct random assessments of ship’s compliance with Navy fire-safety regulations, with a priority on ships undergoing maintenance availabilities.

Naval Sea Systems Command issued an advisory to all supervising authorities on directed fire prevention requirements and outlined corrective actions to improve fire protection, damage control, and firefighting doctrine, all of which will be executed in close partnerships with industry partners.

All investigations associated with the Bonhomme Richard fire “remain ongoing,” says the Navy.

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