Fire aboard Navy's USS Bonhomme Richard extinguished after 4 days, cause still unknown

A total of 63 people — 40 sailors and 23 civilians — have been treated for minor injuries, including heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation.

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By Doha Madani

A fire that erupted over the weekend on a military ship that was officially extinguished on Thursday, with the cause of the days-long blaze still unknown, according to the Navy.

All known fires on the USS Bonhomme Richard have been put out, four days after the flames first erupted on Sunday, Rear Admiral Philip Sobeck, Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group Three said in a statement. The extent of the damage, as well as what started the fire, is still unknown.

“This was a Navy team effort. We had support from the air and sea,” Sobeck’s statement said. “Three helicopter squadrons conducted more than 1,500 water bucket drops, fighting the fire and cooling the super structure and flight deck enabling fire crews to get onboard to fight the fire.”

Firefighting boats spray water on USS Bonhomme Richard as smoke rises from a fire onboard the ship at Naval Base San Diego on July 12, 2020.Bing Guan / Reuters

By Monday, 17 sailors and four civilians were injured, but Sobeck said on Thursday that 63 people — 40 Navy sailors and 23 civilians — have been treated for minor injuries, including heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation.

Authorities are still working to confirm that there are no more active fires aboard the vessel and will begin an investigation into what happened to start the fire. Sobeck told reporters Monday morning that initial reports indicated that pressurization caused the explosions, but did not elaborate on the details.

The Bonhomme Richard is an amphibious assault ship, which works to deploy elements of a Marine landing force. San Diego became home to the ship in 2018 after it was docked for six years in Japan, according to the U.S. Naval Institute.

Krishna Jackson, public affairs officer for Naval Base San Diego, told NBC San Diego Sunday that the ship had undergone a regular maintenance cycle before the fire was reported.

The ship’s future is unknown, Sobeck said, as the Navy assesses how badly the fire impaired the USS Bonhomme Richard.

Mosheh Gains contributed.