15 July 2020






2 mins

On Sunday 12th July 2020, an explosion occurred around 0850 hrs aboard the US Navy Wasp Class Amphibious Assault Ship USS BONHOMME RICHARD LHD 6 while she was berthed at her home port, Naval Base San Diego undergoing maintenance. The resulting fire was fuelled by paper, cloth, rags or other materials, not fuel oil or other hazardous materials, Rear Admiral Philip Sobeck, commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 3, told reporters that evening.Since the ship was in maintenance, onboard fire suppression systems had been disabled, delaying the onset of firefighting efforts, according to Admiral Sobeck.

The day the fire erupted, 17 sailors and four civilians were taken to the hospital with non life threatening injuries; all but five were released by morning of the next day, Navy officials said. By Tuesday 14th July, the number of injured had risen to 61, as more people were treated for minor injuries, including heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation, the following day.

The fire continued to burn for a third straight day on Tuesday 14th July as firefighters battled to get the blaze under control. Admiral Sobeck expressed confidence that firefighters would be able to contain the fire and prevent it from spreading to a section of the ship where fuel is stored. The United States Coast Guard had established a safety zone 1 nautical mile (1.9 km) in diameter and 3,000 feet (910 m) in altitude around the warship, while civilian authorities were advising local residents to remain in their homes to avoid the billowing acrid smoke.

Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron THREE (HSC 3) helicopters have conducted more than 1,200 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,” Sobeck added.

Sailors first reported the fire aboard the Wasp Class Amphibious Assault Ship USS BONHOMME RICHARD LHD 6 while she was berthed at Naval Base San Diego on Sunday 12th July. Later afternoon around 1600 hrs the Arleigh Burke Class guided missile destroyers DDG 62 USS FITZGERALD and DDG 59 USS RUSSELL shifted berths to a pier further away from the fire.

Firefighting has been led by the Federal Fire Department San Diego and 400 more sailors from 12 San Diego based ships. The U.S.Coast Guard is assessing environmental damage and pollution prevention.

Wasp Class LHD 3 USS KEARSARGE approaching Grand Harbour, Malta back to 15th August 2007.

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Published – Wednesday 15th July, 2020

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