Saturday, January 28, 2023

USS Bonhomme Richard Evacuated After Shipboard Fire Pier-Side at Naval Base San Diego

This article has been, and will continue to be, updated as new information is made available.

View of USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) fire from the top of the Coronado Bay Bridge.

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.”

The blue skies have filled with smoke from the fire on board USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6)

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.”

USS Bonhomme Richard
Photo: Kerry Wilson

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.

SAN DIEGO (July 12, 2020) A helicopter from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 3 combats a fire aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christina Ross/Released)
Helicopters based at Naval Air Station North Island on Coronado continue to support firefighters into the morning of July 13th as they combat the fire aboard USS Bonhomme Richard.

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.

SAN DIEGO (July 12, 2020) – Sailors and Federal Fire San Diego firefighters combat a fire aboard USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) July 12. On the morning of July 12, a fire was called away aboard the ship while it was moored pierside at Naval Base San Diego. Local, base and shipboard firefighters responded to the fire. USS Bonhomme Richard is going through a maintenance availability, which began in 2018. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jason Kofonow/Released)

“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.”


Coronado Based Crews Contribute to Firefighting Efforts on USS Bonhomme Richard

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.


Jeannie Groeneveld
Jeannie Groeneveld
Jeannie is a recently retired Naval Officer whose first duty station brought her to Coronado in 1998.  A Navy Helicopter Pilot for 10 years and a Public Affairs Officer for 11 years, the Navy afforded her many incredible opportunities to serve her country in unique ways while seeing the world.Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: [email protected]