The fire on board the U.S. Navy’s USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) continued to burn for a third straight day on Tuesday as firefighters battled to get the blaze under control.
According to a Tuesday afternoon update from Rear Adm. Philip Sobeck, Commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 3, the ship is currently stable and the structure itself remains safe. However, fire is still active and continues to be fought from both within and outside the ship from multiple access points.
“First, we have investigated the four main engineering spaces and found no major damage. There is no threat to the fuel tanks, which is well-below any active fires or heat sources,” said Rear Adm. Sobeck.
“HSC 3 helicopters have conducted more than 1,000 helicopter water bucket drops, which is cooling the super structure and flight deck enabling fire crews to get onboard internally to fight the fire. Tugs are also provide firefighting support from the waterline. I’m proud of the toughness of the Sailors and Federal Firefighters for making this significant progress possible,” Sobeck added.
As it stands currently, 61 personnel, including 38 U.S. Navy Sailors and 23 civilians, have been treated for minor injuries including heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation. None of the personnel are hospitalized at this time.
“Going forward, the Navy will do a thorough investigation of the incident to include assessing the cause of the fire and damage to the ship, but right now our focus remains on putting out the fire and keeping people safe,” said Sobeck. “I’d like to also thank our partners from state and county as well as the Coast Guard for monitoring the potential impacts to the environment. As we continue to fight the fire, we remain cognizant of environmental concerns regarding the water and air quality.
Sailors first reported a fire aboard the wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) while it was moored pier side at Naval Base San Diego on Saturday, July 12, at approximately 11:30 a.m. eastern daylight time. At approximately 4:00 p.m. the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) and USS Russell (DDG 59) shifted berths to a pier further away from the fire.
Firefighting has been led by the Federal Fire Department San Diego and mor e400 Sailors from 12 San Diego-based ships. The U.S.Coast Guard is assessing environmental damage and pollution prevention.
Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron THREE (HSC 3) has conducted more than 1,200 helicopter water bucket drops, which is cooling the super structure and flight deck to allow fire crews to get onboard to fight the fire. Tugs are also providing firefighting support from the waterline.
Update July 15:
As of 9:00 a.m. EDT July 15, firefighting teams continue operations on board USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), 63 personnel, 40 Sailors and 23 civilians, have been treated for minor injuries including heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation. Currently, there are no personnel hospitalized. Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 3 has conducted more than 1,500 helicopter water bucket drops, which are cooling the super-structure and flight deck, enabling fire crews to get onboard to fight the fire internally.
Photos published by the Navy show the extent of the damage observed so far: