Ravaged by fire, USS Bonhomme Richard bound for scrapyard, Navy says
[SDUnionTrib] A fire that raged for almost five days in July has doomed the San Diego-based amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard to the scrapyards, Navy officials announced Monday.
The ship will be decommissioned within a year and will be scrapped, a Navy official told reporters during a conference call Monday. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
The cost of repairing the ship was estimated to be between $2.5 billion and $3.2 billion, said Rear Adm. Eric Ver Hage Monday. The cost and time involved were deemed to be too much by Navy leadership.
"After thorough consideration, the secretary of the Navy and the Chief of Naval Operations have decided to decommission the USS Bonhomme Richard," said Ver Hage, the commander of Navy Regional Maintenance Center.
The Navy looked at all possible courses of action to "make sure we understood the art of the possible," Ver Hage said. Officials assessed every space on the ship and Ver Hage said about 60 percent of it ‐ the flight deck, the island and many of the decks immediately below them ‐ would need to be completely replaced.
The Navy looked at three options for the ship ‐ repairing it to full mission-capabilities, refurbishing it as a tender or hospital ship, or decommissioning, Ver Hage said.
In addition to the expense, rebuilding the Bonhomme Richard would take five to seven years, Ver Hage said. To reconfigure the ship would cost more than $1 billion ‐ more than the cost of building a brand new tender or hospital ship.
Decommissioning will cost the Navy about $30 million and will take between nine months and one year, Ver Hage said. He talked of possibly towing it to storage or to shipbreakers in the Gulf of Mexico, adding that no contract has been awarded yet.
The decision to decommission the ship was made by Navy leaders just before Thanksgiving, Ver Hage said, and Navy leadership and Congress were briefed on the decision Monday.
The fire on the 844-foot ship docked at Naval Base San Diego began around 8:30 a.m. on July 12 ‐ a Sunday ‐ and sent acrid plumes of smoke into the San Diego skies for two days.
Temperatures topped 1,200 degrees F at the height of the inferno.
By the following Tuesday morning, the smoke plume was noticeably smaller, although the fire smell stayed in neighborhoods nearest the base for another two days.
An email from the Navy's top admiral days after the fire revealed the ship had fire, smoke and water damage on 11 of its 14 decks. Some decks were warped and bulging and, in some spaces, completely gutted.
The cause of the blaze remains under investigation, although officials have said the fire began in the ship's lower vehicle storage area. Arson is suspected. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service searched the home of a Bonhomme Richard sailor in August, according to an ABC 10News report. A San Diego Navy official declined to comment on the sailor or the status of the multiple ongoing investigations Monday
Pictures and video at the link.
As I noted while the fire was still burning in July, it smelled like an electrical fire as far as 30 miles north of San Diego Bay.
Posted by: Frank G 2020-12-01