This article was updated at 2:30pm July 13 with a statement from the Coast Guard, and again at 8:15pm.
Fed Fire continues to lead the coordinated effort with teams from San Diego Fire Department, Coronado Fire Department, Navy firefighting teams, Coronado-based Navy Helicopters and more as they fight the fire aboard USS Bonhomme Richard, July 13. As of 0630 July 13, 57 individuals including 34 Navy Sailors and 23 Civilians have been treated for minor injuries related to the fire. Rear Adm. Philip Sobeck, commander, ESG 3, and Capt. Will Eastham, Commanding Officer of HSC-3 provided an update during a press briefing.
“Right now our main priority is to fight the fire, we have been at this for over 24 hours now and have 400 Sailors from around the waterfront making every effort to save the ship,” said Rear Adm. Sobeck. “I am extremely proud of our Sailors.” Sobeck informed reporters that there was no ordnance on board the ship, and that they are cognizant of environmental concerns of water and air quality. He said they are continually assessing the extent of the damage but that they need a full investigation to determine what caused the fire. Sobeck explained that one of the challenges that led to the fire spreading so quickly is that the ship was in the shipyard for maintenance and its Halon [firefighting] system was disabled since it was being worked on.
Rear Adm. Philip Sobeck, commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 3, and Capt. Will Eastham, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 3 commanding officer , speak at a press conference at Naval Base San Diego.
Posted by Surface Warriors on Monday, July 13, 2020
“We have had three aircraft supporting the mission in support of the brave Sailors and firefighters on the ground” said Capt. Eastham, “So far we have dumped 415 buckets of water onto the ship.”
Units from Coronado Fire Department supported the firefighting efforts on July 12 and were relieved in the early afternoon. Aircraft stationed aboard Naval Air Station North Island have flown missions dropping water on the fire and Sailors from USS Abraham Lincoln gathered firefighting gear and personnel to support the efforts.
UPDATE 2:30pm – Monday afternoon, Cmdr. Chris Wright, Response Department Head, Coast Guard Sector San Diego stated, “While the United States Navy continues to effect response actions to quell the fire aboard the USS BONHOMME RICHARD, the United States Coast Guard continues to assess environmental sensitivities and has contracted an Oil Spill Response Organization to preemptively deploy protective boom to guard against any potential environmental concerns. A one-nautical mile safety zone has been established to ensure the safety of the maritime public. Additionally, a one-nautical mile temporary flight-restriction zone from surface to 3,000 feet altitude has been established to maintain the safety of all firefighting aircraft. Neighboring marinas are also currently being advised to utilize protective safety measures. The safety of first responders, protection of the marine environment and the uninterrupted flow of commerce remain the highest concerns to the Coast Guard. Responders will continue to monitor and assess potential environmental concerns and adjust response actions to ensure the safety and security of the maritime public and the marine environment.”
UPDATE 8:15pm – Naval Surface Force U.S. Pacific Fleet stated that, “In the past 48 hours, Federal Fire Department San Diego and U.S. Navy Sailors have conducted numerous firefighting operations, making significant progress with the help of aerial firefighting operations conducted by U.S. Navy helicopters. Crews from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 3 will continue efforts throughout the night.”