Local, base and shipboard fire fighting teams responded to a fire aboard USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6), a Wasp-class Amphibious Assault Ship, while it was moored pier-side at Naval Base San Diego Sunday, July 12. According to Naval Surface Forces the three-alarm fire was called at approximately 8:30 am and about 160 Sailors were on the ship. The entire crew is off the ship and all are accounted for with 18 Sailors transferred to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries. The Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Michael Gilday shared the following on his Twitter account, “We are grateful for the quick and immediate response of local, base and shipboard firefighters aboard BHR [Bonhomme Richard]. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families, and our emergency responders who continue to fight the fire.”
Smoke has filled the skies just south of the Coronado Bridge where firefighting teams on the ground and in the water are battling to contain the fire. San Diego Fire Department (SDFD) has stated that they are assisting Fed Fire with the response. According to SDFD “An explosion from the ship happened just before 11 a.m. None of the SDFD firefighters were on board when the explosion happened, but the blast threw several firefighters off their feet, but their are no injuries to any SDFD firefighters,” the statement went on to say “This incident is being managed by the US Navy, SDFD and several other agencies are operating under unified command.”
UPDATE 2:30pm – Naval Surface Forces Command reported that “at approximately 1:00 p.m., USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) shifted berths to a pier further away from the fire. USS Russell (DDG-59) moved approximately 30 minutes later. Seventeen Sailors and four civilians are being treated for non-life threatening injuries at a local hospital.”
UPDATE 4:00pm – Naval Surface Forces Command reported that Federal Fire San Diego is the on-scene lead for firefighting efforts on Naval Base San Diego combatting the fire on USS Bonhomme Richard. The origin of the fire is still unknown and is pending investigation.
UPDATE 7:00 PM Rear Adm. Phil Sobeck, Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 3, hosted a press conference discussing the fire on Bonhomme Richard, the safety zones established south of the Coronado Bridge and an update on what the firefighters are experiencing as well as condition of the crew. See link below.
Press conference for the ongoing firefighting efforts onboard USS Bonhomme Richard at Naval Base San Diego
Posted by Surface Warriors on Sunday, July 12, 2020
UPDATE 11:15pm – As of 11:00 pm, defensive operations continue on board USS Bonhomme Richard. Additionally, aerial firefighting operations commenced via helicopter water bucket at 10:30pm with two helicopters from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron THREE. There are 15 personnel (13 Sailors and two Federal Fire firefighters) admitted to local hospitals. All are currently in stable condition.
UPDATE JULY 13, 2020 6:30am – Naval Surface Forces report that firefighting teams continue on board in addition to the aerial firefighting operations that began last night. An update on personnel states that 57 people, both Sailors and civilians, have been treated for minor injuries including heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation; with five hospitalized for observation and in stable condition.
“Currently there are two firefighting teams fighting the fire aboard the ship,” said Federal Fire San Diego Division Chief Rob Bondurant. “Federal Fire is rotating their crews aboard the ship with U.S. Navy firefighting crews from the waterfront to fight the fire in order to find the seat of the fire and extinguish it. Also, Navy Region Southwest tugs are also continuously combatting the fire from the bay.”
Bonhomme Richard is currently going through a scheduled maintenance availability and has a full crew size of 1,000 sailors according to Naval Surface Forces. USS Bonhomme Richard returned to San Diego May 8, 2018 after spending 6 years homeported in Sasebo Japan as part of the Forward Deployed Naval Forces. While homeported in San Diego, Bonhomme Richard has supported operational tasking in the U.S. 3rd Fleet area of responsibility prior to entering the current extended maintenance availability that will include upgrades and modernization to operate the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter.