After four days of firefighting, all known fires have been extinguished aboard US Navy’s Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), Rear Admiral Philip E. Sobeck, Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group Three, said in a statement on July 16.
“Our fire teams are investigating every space to verify the absence of fire. Until every space is checked and there are no active fires we will not be able to commence any official investigations,” Sobeck informed.
“We did not know the origin of the fire. We do not know the extent of the damage. It is too early to make any predictions or promises of what the future of the ship will be.”
He added that the navy cannot make any conclusions until the investigation is complete.
The ship was undergoing maintenance at Naval Base San Diego when a massive fire broke out onboard on July 12.
Sailors from commands all across San Diego worked alongside federal firefighters to extinguish the fire. More than 400 sailors from twelve San Diego-based ships contributed to the operation.
“We had support from the air and sea. 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. Tugs also provided firefighting support from the waterline, cooling the ship’s hull,” Sobeck continued.
“We had 63 personnel, 40 U.S. Navy Sailors and 23 civilians, treated for minor injuries including heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation. We have no personnel hospitalized.”
On July 17, Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Mike Gilday traveled to San Diego to visit USS Bonhomme Richard and see the ship’s firefighting efforts first-hand. During the visit, CNO also spoke with sailors who fought the fire aboard Bonhomme Richard, and naval aviators who flew missions in support of firefighting efforts.
Sailors who participated in firefighting efforts test positive for COVID-19
At least two sailors who were extinguishing the blaze onboard USS Bonhomme Richard have tested positive for coronavirus, the US Navy confirmed to The San Diego Union-Tribune on Friday. The infected sailors reportedly shared firefighting gear such as gloves and masks.
The two sailors are crew members of the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS San Diego (LPD-22).
Twenty-seven people identified as their close contacts have been quarantined.
The US Navy has not issued any official statement on the new COVID-19 outbreak in San Diego.