31 OCT 2021
A U.S. Navy investigation released on Wednesday found that a fire aboard a warship last year, which was caused by arson, was preventable and that a series of failures after it started led to the destruction of the ship.
More than 60 people, including about 40 sailors, were treated for minor injuries during several days of fighting flames on the 844-foot-long (257-meter) amphibious assault ship Bonhomme, which was docked for maintenance at its home port at U.S. Naval Base San Diego.
A U.S. Navy sailor was charged earlier this year with starting a fire which eventually destroyed the ship.
But an investigation found that after the fire was started, commanders in the Navy and sailors aboard the ship were responsible for a series of failures.
“Although the fire was started by an act of arson, the ship was lost due to an inability to extinguish the fire,” the investigation report said.
The report said that the crew on the ship lacked a basic knowledge of firefighting, there was ineffective oversight by commanders and the ship did not have proper heat detection capabilities.
On the morning of the fire, the report said, 87 percent of the ship’s fire stations were in “inactive equipment maintenance status.”
“The loss of this ship was completely preventable,” said Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Bill Lescher, emphasizing the Navy’s commitment to making urgent and necessary changes to correct the deficiencies and related root causes. “And the Navy is executing a deliberative process that includes taking appropriate accountability actions with respect to personnel assigned to Bonhomme Richard and the shore commands designed to support the ship while moored at Naval Base San Diego.”
The report recommended that 36 people be considered for potentially some sort of disciplinary action. (Reporting by Idrees Ali Editing by Mark Heinrich)